Glutamate receptors-mediated excitotoxicity is believed to play a role in the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases. The present study was performed to evaluate the inhibitory effect of fangchinoline, a bis-benzylisoquinoline alkaloid, which has a characteristic as a Ca2+ channel blocker, on excitatory amino acids (EAAs)-induced neurotoxicity in cultured rat cerebellar granule neuron. Fangchinoline (1 and 5 microM) inhibited glutamate (1 mM), N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA; 1 mM) and kainate (100 microM)-induced neuronal cell death which was measured by trypan blue exclusion test. Fangchinoline (1 and 5 microM) inhibited glutamate release into medium induced by NMDA (1 mM) and kainate (100 microM), which was measured by HPLC. And fangchinoline (5 microM) inhibited glutamate (1 mM)-induced elevation of intracellular calcium concentration. These results suggest that inhibition of Ca2+ influx by fangchinoline may contribute to the beneficial effects on neurodegenerative effect of glutamate in pathophysiological conditions.