The effects of small changes in the calcium and sodium concentrations and in the pH of superfusion medium on the membrane potential and light-evoked responses of cone horizontal cells in the goldfish retina were examined. Conventional intracellular recording, a bicarbonate-based superfusion medium, and a specially designed superfusion apparatus that reduced pressure wave disturbances were used. An increase in the extracellular calcium concentration, [Ca2+]o, from control levels (0.1 mM) to 1.0 mM hyperpolarized cone horizontal cells and reduced the magnitude of their light responses at all stimulus intensities. Addition of 20 mM NaCl to the 1.0 mM Ca2+ Ringer's solution reversed the hyperpolarizing effect of the 1.0 mM Ca2+ but addition of 20 mM choline, a monovalent cation that does not pass through cyclic GMP-activated channels, did not. Reduction of the superfusate pH from 7.6 to 7.2 by switching from a Ringer's solution gassed with 3% CO2to one gassed with 10% CO2hyperpolarized horizontal cells and reduced the magnitude of their light responses at all stimulus intensities for both 0.1 and 1.0 mM Ca2+ Ringer's solutions. An increase in pH to 8.2 by gassing the superfusate with 1% CO2slightly depolarized the cells in 0.1 mM Ca2+ Ringer's solution but slightly hyperpolarized the cells in the 1.0 mM Ca2+ Ringer's solution. Following pharmacological isolation of the horizontal cells from synaptic input with high doses of glutamate (4–5 mM) and/or Co2+ (4 mM) treatment, no effect on horizontal cell membrane potential due to changes in pHoor [Ca2+]owas observed. These findings are discussed with respect to the cellular mechanisms and sites of action in the outer retina that are affected by changes in pHoand [Ca2+]o. © 1993, Cambridge University Press. All rights reserved.