1,4,5-Inositol trisphosphate receptors (IP3Rs) and ryanodine receptors (RyRs) mediate release of Ca(2+) from internal stores in many neurons. The details of the spatial and temporal characteristics of these signals and their interactions in dendrites remain to be clarified. We found that localized Ca(2+) release events, with no associated change in membrane potential, occurred spontaneously in the dendrites of rat hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons. Their rate, but not their amplitude or time course, could be modulated by changes in membrane potential. Together, these results suggest that the spontaneous events are similar to RyR-dependent Ca(2+) "sparks" found in cardiac myocytes. In addition, we found that we could generate another kind of localized Ca(2+) release event by either a synaptic tetanus in the presence of 3-((R)-2-carboxypiperazine-4-yl)-propyl-1-phosphonic acid and CNQX or by uncaging IP3. These events had slower rise times and decay times than sparks and were more heterogeneous. These properties are similar to Ca(2+) "puffs" found in oocytes. These two localized signals interact. Low-intensity tetanic synaptic stimulation or uncaging of IP3 increased the decay time of spontaneous Ca(2+) events without changing their rise time or amplitude. Pharmacological experiments suggest that this event widening is attributable to a delayed IP3R-mediated release of Ca(2+) triggered by the synergistic action of IP3 and Ca(2+) released by RyRs. The actions of IP3 appear to be confined to the main apical dendrite because uncaging IP3 in the oblique dendrites has no effect on the time course of localized events or backpropagating action potential-evoked Ca(2+) signals in this region.