Calcium accumulation by rod disks was studied in excised bullfrog retinas with 45Ca tracer-exchange methods. Ca uptake by disks is a necessary requirement if light-induced Ca releases from disks mediate photoreceptor excitation. In an hour-long incubation, disks exchanged less than or equal to 0.01 mole of Ca per mole of rhodopsin, or less than or equal to 10% of their total Ca. This corresponds to a unidirectional flux of less than or equal to 0.01 fmol/cm2 S, or less than or equal to 5 ions/disk-second across the disk membrane. Neither incubation in 10 mM Ca (which increases cytoplasmic activity 10--100-fold) nor photostimulation (which photoactivated up to 50% rhodopsin/h) had measurable effect on exchange rate, though an increase of several orders of magnitude would have been expected according to the hypothesis. The observed exchange could not be explained by: (a) 45Ca losses from disks before measurement (neither the net efflux nor the Ca-Ca exchange property of disks adequately explains such losses), (b) a limited pool of exchangeables Ca from strongly binding intradiskal sites, or (c) rate-limiting flux across the plasma membrane during incubation. For the study of the Ca efflux properties of disks, separate experiments were performed with 45Ca-loaded disks. Intradiskal activity could be estimated from the disks' hyperosmotically sensitive 45Ca pool and from their intradiskal volume (indirectly assayed by density). Ca-Ca exchange was undetectable (less than or equal to 0.1 fmol/cm2 S) in disks whose intradiskal activity was at least 0.3 mM. Net efflux was 0.2 fmol/cm2 S for an intradiskal activity of approximately 1 mM and is comparable to published fluxes for phospholipid vesicles. These results seem to exclude the internal space of disks as the source of Ca for photoreceptor excitation.

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