The development of oligodendrocytes from their precursor cells through different developmental stages can be studied in vitro. These stages can be distinguished by specific monoclonal antibodies and by a characteristic K+ channel profile. In this study we demonstrate that the occurrence of Ca2+ currents also undergoes marked changes during the development of mouse oligodendrocytes. Immature precursor cells which can develop into astrocytes or oligodendrocytes expressed two different types of voltage-activated Ca2+ channels. The expression of Ca2+ channels in precursor cells was strongly correlated with the expression of Na+ channels. When cells started to express the O1 antigen and were committed to the oligodendrocyte lineage, Ca2+ and Na+ currents could no longer be detected. Large Ca2+ currents were, however, recorded later in the development of the oligodendrocytes, correlated with the expression of the O10 antigen. The Ca2+ channels were classified as high and low voltage-activated Ca2+ channels according to their range of activation, and are further described by their kinetic and pharmacological properties.