The asymmetrical distribution of F-actin directed by cell polarity has been observed during the migration of monospores from the red alga Porphyra yezoensis. The significance of Ca 2+ influx and phosphoinositide signalling during the formation of cell polarity in migrating monospores was analysed pharmacologically. The results indicate that the inhibition of the establishment of cell polarity, as judged by the ability of F-actin to localize asymmetrically, cell wall synthesis, and development into germlings, occurred when monospores were treated with inhibitors of the Ca 2+ permeable channel, phospholipase C (PLC), diacylglycerol kinase, and inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor. Moreover, it was also found that light triggered the establishment of cell polarity via photosynthetic activity but not its direction, indicating that the Ca 2+ influx and PLC activation required for the establishment of cell polarity are light dependent. By contrast, inhibition of phospholipase D (PLD) prevented the migration of monospores but not the asymmetrical localization of F-actin. Taken together, these findings suggest that there is functional diversity between the PLC and PLD signalling systems in terms of the formation of cell polarity; the former being critical for the light-dependent establishment of cell polarity and the latter playing a role in the maintenance of established cell polarity.