Vertebrate photoreceptors respond to light with a brief hyperpolarization of their membrane potential. In the dark, photoreceptors are depolarized by cation influx through channels in the plasma membrane which are kept open by the second messenger cGMP. Light absorption activates an enzyme cascade that hydrolytically destroys cGMP, resulting in channel closure and hyperpolarization of the membrane. In addition, processes are initiated that allow photoreceptors to adapt their sensitivity to the ambient illumination. Although these adaptational mechanisms are less well understood, it is clear that they are strongly controlled by the intracellular Ca2+ concentration. This review describes our present knowledge about the signal transduction and its fine tuning by a complex network of Ca(2+)-mediated processes in vertebrate photoreceptors.