Ionic mechanisms of salt stress perception were investigated by non-invasive measurements of net H+, K+, Ca2+, Na+, and Cl− fluxes from leaf mesophyll of broad bean (Vicia faba L.) plants using vibrating ion-selective microelectrodes (the MIFE technique). Treatment with 90 m M NaCl led to a significant increase in the net K+ efflux and enhanced activity of the plasma membrane H+-pump. Both these events were effectively prevented by high (10 m M) Ca2+ concentrations in the bath. At the same time, no significant difference in the net Na+ flux has been found between low- and high-calcium treatments. It is likely that plasma membrane K+ and H+ transporters, but not the VIC channels, play the key role in the amelioration of negative salt effects by Ca2+ in the bean mesophyll. Experiments with isotonic mannitol application showed that cell ionic responses to hyperosmotic treatment are highly stress-specific. The most striking difference in response was shown by K+ fluxes, which varied from an increased net K+ efflux (NaCl treatment) to a net K+ influx (mannitol treatment). It is concluded that different ionic mechanisms are involved in the perception of the ‘ionic’ and ‘osmotic’ components of salt stress.