Intracellular signal transduction involved in non-neuronal ATP release evoked by alpha, beta-methylene ATP and bethanechol was evaluated in guinea pig ileal longitudinal muscle segments. alpha, beta-methylene ATP (100 microM) and bethanechol (10 microM) evoked ATP released that reached a peak about 3 min after administration. The evoked release of ATP was markedly inhibited by neomycin and spermine, inhibitors of phospholipase C, but not by treatment with pertussis toxin. In addition, the release of ATP was almost completely suppressed by 1 mM Li+, an inhibitor of inositol monophosphatase. These inhibitors, however, did not affect the contractions of the tissue evoked by these agonists. Forskolin and phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate, activators of adenylate cyclase and protein kinase C, respectively, failed to enhance the evoked release. The accumulation of inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate [Ins(1,4,5)P3] in the muscle segments were enhanced about 2 min after the administration of alpha, beta-methylene ATP. In the presence of 1 mM Li+, however, the enhancement of Ins(1,4,5)P3 accumulation by the P2 agonist was no longer elicited. These findings suggest that the release of ATP by receptor stimulation may result mainly from the activation of phospholipase C, which is coupled to a pertussis toxin-insensitive G-protein and subsequent accumulation of Ins(1,4,5)P3 in the smooth muscles. However, the discrepancy between the inhibitory effects of Li+ on the release of ATP and the accumulation of Ins(1,4,5)P3 to be clarified in future studies.