The d.c. potential and the Ca2+ concentration in the stria vascularis of the chincilla were measured using double-barreled Ca2+-selective microelectrodes with fine tips. The impalement of the microelectrode through the stria vascularis indicated two or three regions showing low Ca2+ concentrations. The first region with a low Ca2+ concentration, presumably corresponding to the basal cell, showed a Ca2+ concentration of 2.5 +/- 1.9 microM. The low Ca2+ region, adjacent to the endolymph, showed 0.31 +/- 0.15 microM and presumably corresponds to the marginal cell. In contrast, the Ca2+ concentrations in the spiral ligament, intrastrial space and endolymph were 1.6 +/- 0.2 mM, 0.75 +/- 0.12 mM, and 17 +/- 7 microM, respectively. Based upon the electrochemical profile for Ca2+ ions, we hypothesize mechanisms of cellular Ca2+ transport where Ca2+ ions from perilymph are accumulated into endolymph via the action of Ca2+-ATPase located in apical membranes of both the basal and marginal cells.