Gastrin, cholecystokinin (CCK), and CCK-related peptides comprise a hormonal family characterized by an identical carboxy-terminal amino acid sequence, a domain critical for receptor binding. The addition of gastrin to small cell lung cancer (SCLC) cells causes a rapid and transient increase in the intracellular concentration of calcium ([Ca2+]i). Furthermore, gastrin acts as a direct growth factor through CCKB/gastrin receptors. We report here that the expression of the mRNA coding for CCKB/gastrin receptors correlates with the responsiveness of SCLC cells to gastrin in terms of Ca2+ mobilization and stimulation of clonal growth in semisolid medium. The GLC19 SCLC cell line had no detectable expression of CCKB/gastrin receptor mRNA. Accordingly, gastrin (1–100 nm) did not cause any measurable increase in [Ca2+]i. In contrast, the addition of cholecystokinin residues 26–33 (CCK-8) caused a rapid and transient increase in [Ca2+]i in this cell line. CCK-8 mobilized Ca2+ in a dose-dependent manner in the nanomolar range (half-maximal stimulatory concentration = 12 nm). Furthermore, the selective CCKA antagonist CAM-1481 inhibited the increase in [Ca2+]i induced by CCK-8 (half-maximal inhibitory concentration = 3 nm) in GLC19 but not in H510 cells. The selective CCKB/gastrin antagonist blocked the increase in [Ca2+]i induced by CCK-8 (half-maximal inhibitory concentration = 80 pm) in H510 but not in GLC19 cells. Thus, the effects of CCK-8 are mediated through CCKA receptors in GLC19 cells and via CCKB/gastrin receptors in H510 cells. CCK-8 markedly stimulated colony formation in GLC19 cells in a dose-dependent manner in the nanomolar range, whereas over the same concentration range, gastrin had no effect on clonal growth. CAM-1481 inhibited the CCK-stimulated colony formation in GLC19 but not in H510 cells. Our results show, for the first time, that CCKA receptors can mediate Ca2+ mobilization and growth in SCLC cells and that SCLC cells express two distinct functional CCK receptor subtypes.