We investigated the role of dendritic spine morphology in spine–dendrite calcium communication using novel experimental and theoretical approaches. A transient rise in [Ca2+]i was produced in individual spine heads of Fluo-4-loaded cultured hippocampal neurons by flash photolysis of caged calcium. Following flash photolysis in the spine head, a delayed [Ca2+]i transient was detected in the parent dendrites of only short, but not long, spines. Delayed elevated fluorescence in the dendrite of the short spines was also seen with a membrane-bound fluorophore and fluorescence recovery from bleaching of a calcium-bound fluorophore had a much slower kinetics, indicating that the dendritic fluorescence change reflects a genuine diffusion of free [Ca2+]i from the spine head to the parent dendrite. Calcium diffusion between spine head and the parent dendrite was regulated by calcium stores as well as by a Na–Ca exchanger. Spine length varied with the recent history of the [Ca2+]i variations in the spine, such that small numbers of calcium transients resulted in elongation of spines whereas large numbers of calcium transients caused shrinkage of the spines. Consequently, spine elongation resulted in a complete isolation of the spine from the dendrite, while shrinkage caused an enhanced coupling with the parent dendrite. These studies highlight a dynamically regulated coupling between a dendritic spine head and its parent dendrite.