1. Calcium currents were characterized in tall hair cells isolated from the chick's cochlea to determine what types of Ca2+ channels existed and if these varied in cells with differing voltage responses to current injection. 2. Whole‐cell, tight‐seal recordings showed that the current‐voltage relation of cochlear hair cells of the chick was dominated by K+ current. However, when outward K+ current was blocked it was found that all hair cells had a smaller, maintained inward current. 3. This inward current was a Ca2+ current since it required Ca2+ in the external medium, could also be carried by Ba2+, and was blocked reversibly by 5 mM‐Co2+ and by Ni2+ and Cd2+ at micromolar concentrations. The Ca2+ channels were opened at membrane potentials positive to ‐50 mV, and the current was maximal near 0 mV. 4. The dihydropyridine BayK8644 (0.5 microM) produced a voltage‐dependent increase of inward current. Ten micromolar nifedipine partially blocked the inward current. The outward Ca2(+)‐activated K+ current was also reduced in the presence of 10 microM‐nifedipine. These effects of dihydropyridines were completely reversible. 5. The Ca2+ current had rapid activation kinetics, reaching steady‐state levels within 1 ms. If all outward currents were completely blocked the Ca2+ current showed no inactivation during depolarization lasting 200 ms. 6. No differences in voltage activation range, pharmacology, or kinetics of the Ca2+ current were found in tall hair cells from apical and basal regions of the cochlea. This is in contrast to the marked differences in K+ currents amongst cells from these two widely separated regions of the cochlea.
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