Activation of T cells by lectins or mAb directed at components of the Ag-specific TCR results in hydrolysis of phosphorylated derivatives of phosphatidylinositol and an increase in intracellular free calcium concentration (Cai). We report that cholera toxin, which activates adenylate cyclase by ADP ribosylation of a G protein, also reduces both inositol phosphate (IP) production and the rise in Cai in Con A-stimulated murine T cells. We find that similar dose-dependent inhibitory effects can be induced by each of four other agents that raise cAMP levels in such cells: forskolin, PGE2, 2-chloroadenosine, and isoproterenol. The effects of these agents on IP production are reversible and therefore do not simply reflect cytotoxicity. Activation by PHA and by antibody to the T3-epsilon-chain of the TCR complex are also inhibited by agents that increase intracellular cAMP. Thus, changes in cAMP concentration seem to regulate both IP production and the Ca2+ response, two early components of the mitogen-induced activation process.