© 2014 The Authors. Astrocytes modulate synaptic transmission via release of gliotransmitters such as ATP, glutamate, d-serine and l-lactate. One of the main problems when studying the role of astrocytes in vitro and in vivo is the lack of suitable tools for their selective activation. Optogenetic actuators can be used to manipulate astrocytic activity by expression of variants of channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) or other optogenetic actuators with the aim to initiate intracellular events such as intracellular Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) and/or cAMP increases. We have developed an array of adenoviral vectors (AVV) with ChR2-like actuators, including an enhanced ChR2 mutant (H134R), and a mutant with improved Ca2+ permeability (Ca2+ translocating channelrhodopsin, CatCh). We show here that [Ca2+]i elevations evoked by ChR2(H134R) and CatCh in astrocytes are largely due to release of Ca2+ from the intracellular stores. The autocrine action of ATP which is released under these conditions and acts on the P2Y receptors also contributes to the [Ca2+]i elevations. We also studied effects evoked using light-sensitive G-protein coupled receptors (opto-adrenoceptors). Activation of optoα1AR (Gq-coupled) and optoβ2AR (Gs-coupled) resulted in astrocytic [Ca2+]i increases which were suppressed by blocking the corresponding intracellular signalling cascade (phospholipase C and adenylate cyclase, respectively). Interestingly, the bulk of [Ca2+]i responses evoked using either optoAR was blocked by an ATP degrading enzyme, apyrase, or a P2Y1 receptor blocker, MRS 2179, indicating that they are to a large extent triggered by the autocrine action of ATP. We conclude that, whilst optimal tools for control of astrocytes are yet to be generated, the currently available optogenetic actuators successfully initiate biologically relevant signalling events in astrocytes.