Calmodulin is a widely distributed, highly active, calcium-binding protein that influences a number of important biological events. Accordingly, agents that inhibit the activity of calmodulin should have profound pharmacological effects. Within the past few years, a number of compounds have been identified that inhibit calmodulin. The most potent of these described so far include certain antipsychotic drugs, smooth muscle relaxants, alpha-adrenergic blocking agents and neuropeptides. Studies of the physicochemical and structural properties of a variety of calmodulin inhibitors have shown that there are ionic and hydrophobic interactions between the drug and calmodulin. From the limited studies conducted so far, we conclude that, for a compound to inhibit calmodulin, it should carry a positive charge at physiological pH, presumably to interact with negative charges on the highly acidic calmodulin, and have hydrophobic groups, presumably to interact with lipophilic regions on calmodulin. But these two factors are not the only ones that are involved in inhibiting calmodulin, for many highly charged and highly hydrophobic agents have relatively little effect on calmodulin activity. The structural relationships between these ionic and hydrophobic regions and other, as yet identified, factors are also important. Many of the biochemical actions of the phenothiazine antipsychotic agents can be explained by the common mechanism of their binding to, and inhibiting, calmodulin. The question of whether these biochemical actions can explain their pharmacological and clinical effects is still unclear. The fundamental role calmodulin plays in biology suggests that this calcium binding protein may provide a new site for the pharmacological manipulation of biological activity. The calmodulin inhibitors described thus far hardly scratch the surface of this fertile area of research.