L- and T-type voltage-dependent transmembrane calcium channels are important for normal functioning of the cardiovascular system. T-type channels are a heterogeneous group, and have physiologic and pathophysiologic relevance in a number of organ systems, including the heart and central nervous system. They appear to be involved in the control of blood pressure in patients with essential hypertension and in protection from ischemic damage. Alterations of both L- and T-type calcium channels are involved in the development of hypertension. Pharmacologic modulation of T-type calcium channels appears to reduce membrane calcium flux and ameliorate hypertension. During early ischemic damage, T-type calcium channels appear to remain functional whereas L-type channels are already inactivated. T-type calcium channels also appear to be involved in the development of supraventricular arrhythmias, some forms of arrhythmias in cardiomyopathy, and cardiac hypertrophy. The heterogeneity of T-type calcium channels should make it possible to target drugs to specific subgroups of T-type calcium channels. A new class of calcium antagonist, the benzimidazolyl-substituted tetraline derivatives, has been shown to block both L- and T-type calcium channels. The first member of this class approved for clinical use is mibefradil. Clinical studies have demonstrated the efficacy of mibefradil in lowering blood pressure and as an antianginal and antiischemic agent. At clinically recommended doses, mibefradil has a heart rate lowering effect without a negative inotropic effect, and a favorable side effect profile. Because it is metabolized by the cytochrome P450 pathway, it should be used cautiously with other agents similarly metabolized.