Voltage-gated Ca2+ channels are categorized as either high-voltage activated (HVA) or low-voltage activated (LVA), and a subtype (or subtypes) of HVA Ca2+ channels link the presynaptic depolarization to rapid neuro-transmitter release. Reductions in transmitter release are characteristic of the autoimmune disorder, Lambert-Eaton syndrome (LES). Because antibodies from LES patients reduce Ca2+ influx in a variety of cell types and disrupt the intramembrane organization of active zones at neuromuscular synapses, specificity of LES antibodies for the Ca2+ channels that control transmitter release has been suggested as the mechanism for disease. We tested sera from four patients with LES. Serum samples from three of the four patients reduced both the maximal LVA and HVA Ca2+ conductances in murine dorsal root ganglion neurons. Thus, even though LES is expressed as a neuromuscular and autonomic disorder, our studies suggest that Ca2+ channels may be broadly affected in LES patients. To account for the specificity of disease expression, we suggest that incapacitation of only a fraction of the Ca2+ channels clustered at active zones would severely depress transmitter release. In particular, if several Ca2+ channels in a cluster are normally required to open simultaneously before transmitter release becomes likely, the loss of a few active zone Ca2+ channels would exponentially reduce the probability of transmitter release. This model may explain why LES is expressed as a neuromuscular disorder and can account for a clinical hallmark of LES, facilitation of neuromuscular transmission produced by vigorous voluntary effort.