The roles of a monomeric GTP-binding regulatory protein in the activation of store-activated plasma membrane Ca2+ channels and in the release of Ca2+ from the smooth endoplasmic reticulum (SER) in rat liver parenchymal cells were investigated with the use of freshly isolated rat hepatocytes and rat liver microsomes. A low concentration (approx. 130 μM intracellular) of guanosine 5′-[γ-thio]triphosphate (GTP[S]) activated Ca2+ inflow in intact hepatocytes in the absence of an agonist, whereas a high concentration (approx. 530 μM intracellular) of GTP[S] or guanosine 5′-[βγ-imido]triphosphate (p[NH]ppG) inhibited the Ca2+ inflow induced by inhibitors of the activity of the endoplasmic-reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA) and by vasopressin. GTP (530 μM) prevented the inhibition of Ca2+ inflow by GTP[S] and p[NH]ppG. Brefeldin A and the peptide human Arf-1-(2-17), which inhibit many functions of ADP ribosylation factor (Arf) proteins, inhibited the Ca2+ inflow induced by SERCA inhibitors and vasopressin, and altered the profile of Ca2+ release from the SER. These effects were observed at concentrations of Brefeldin A and Arf-1-(2-17) comparable with those that inhibit the functions of Arf proteins in other systems. Succinylated Arf-1-(2-17) had a negligible effect on Ca2+ inflow. GTP[S] and Arf-1-(2-17) completely inhibited the synergistic action of GTP and Ins(1,4,5)P3 in releasing 45Ca2+ from rat liver microsomes loaded with 45Ca2+. AlF4- (under conditions expected to activate trimeric G-proteins) and succinylated Arf-1-(2-17) had no effect on GTP/Ins(1,4,5)P3-induced 45Ca2+ release, and a mastoparan analogue caused partial inhibition. Arf-1-(2-17) did not inhibit 45Ca2+ release induced by either thapsigargin or ionomycin. It is concluded that a low-molecular-mass G-protein, most probably a member of the Arf protein family, is required for store-activated Ca2+ inflow in rat hepatocytes. The idea that the role of this G-protein is to maintain a region of the SER in the correct intracellular location is discussed briefly.