1. A method is described for establishing steady-state conditions of calcium transport across the inner membrane of rat liver mitochondria and for determining the current of Ca2+ flowing across the membrane, together with the Ca2+ electrochemical gradient across the native Ca2+ carrier. These parameters were used to quantify the apparent Ca2+ conductance of the native carrier. 2. At 23 degrees C and pH7.0, the apparent Ca2+ conductance of the carrier is close to 1 nmol of Ca2+-min-1-mg of protein-1 mV-1. Proton extrusion by the respiratory chain, rather than the Ca2+ carrier itself, may often be rate-limiting in studies of initial rates of Ca2+ uptake. 3. Under parallel conditions, the endogenous H+ conductance of the membrane is 0.3 nmol of H+-min-1-mg of protein-1-mV-1. 4. Ruthenium Red and La3+ both strongly inhibit the Ca2+ conductance of the carrier, but are without effect on the H+ conductance of the membrane. 5. The apparent Ca2+ conductance of the carrier shows a sigmoidal dependence on the activity of Ca2+ in the medium. At 23 degrees C and pH7.2, half-maximum conductance is obtained at a Ca2+ activity of 4.7 muM. 6. The apparent Ca2+ conductance and the H+ conductance of the inner membrane increase fourfold from 23 degrees to 38 degrees C. The apparent Arrhenius activation energy for Ca2+ transport is 69kJ/mol. The H+ electrochemical gradient maintained in the absence of Ca2+ transport does not vary significantly with temperature. 7. The apparent Ca2+ conductance increases fivefold on increasing the pH of the medium from 6.8 to 8.0. The H+ conductance of the membrane does not vary significantly with pH over this range. 8. Mg2+ has no effect on the apparent Ca2+ conductance when added at concentration up to 1 mM. 9. Results are compared with classical methods of studying Ca2+ transport across the mitochondrial inner membrane.

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