Although recent studies have suggested that dentate granule cells play a key role in hippocampal functions, electrophysiological properties in these cells have not been sufficiently explored. In the present study, modification of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels by 4-hydroxynonenal (4HN), a major aldehydic product of membrane lipid peroxidation, in cultured dentate granule cells was examined using the whole-cell patch clamp technique. When whole-cell voltage clamp was applied, the cells exhibited a high-voltage-activated Ca2+ current, which was totally sensitive to 30 microM Cd2+ and partially sensitive to 2 microM nifedipine. 4HN enhanced the Ca2+ current in these cells. When L-type Ca2+ channels were blocked by application of nifedipine, the enhancement was completely canceled, whereas application of omega-conotoxin-GVIA or omega-agatoxin-IVA, blockers of N- and P/Q-type Ca2+ channels, respectively, had no effect. These results suggest that 4HN modulates L-type Ca2+ channels in the dentate granule cells, and thereby plays a role in the physiological and pathophysiological responses of these cells to oxidative stress.