Under depolarizing voltage clamp of Paramecium an inward calcium current developed and subsequently relaxed within 10 milliseconds. The relaxation was substantially slowed when most of the extracellular calcium was replaced by either strontium or barium. Evidence is presented that the relaxation is not accounted for by a drop in electromotive force acting on calcium, or by activation of a delayed potassium current. Relaxation of the current must, therefore, result from an inactivation of the calcium channel. This inactivation persisted after a pulse, as manifested by a reduced calcium current during subsequent depolarization. Inactivation was retarded by procedures that reduce net entry of calcium, and was independent of membrane potential. The calcium channel undergoes inactivation as a consequence of calcium entry during depolarization. In this respect, inactivation of the calcium channel departs qualitatively from the behavior described in the Hodgkin-Huxley model of the sodium channel.
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