Human mammary epithelial (HME) cells express several P2Y receptor subtypes located in both apical and basolateral membranes. Apical UTP or ATP-?-S stimulation of monolayers mounted in Ussing chambers evoked a rapid, but transient decrease in short circuit current (I(sc)), consistent with activation of an apical K+ conductance. In contrast, basolateral P2Y receptor stimulation activated basolateral K+ channels and increased transepithelial Na+ absorption. Chelating intracellular Ca2+ using the membrane-permeable compound BAPTA-AM, abolished the effects of purinoceptor activation on I(sc). Apical pretreatment with charybdotoxin also blocked the I(sc) decrease by >90% and similar magnitudes of inhibition were observed with clotrimazole and TRAM-34. In contrast, iberiotoxin and apamin did not block the effects of apical P2Y receptor stimulation. Silencing the expression of K(Ca)3.1 produced ~70% inhibition of mRNA expression and a similar reduction in the effects of apical purinoceptor agonists on I(sc). In addition, silencing P2Y2 receptors reduced the level of P2Y2 mRNA by 75% and blocked the effects of ATP-?-S by 65%. These results suggest that P2Y2 receptors mediate the effects of purinoceptor agonists on K+ secretion by regulating the activity of K(Ca)3.1 channels expressed in the apical membrane of HME cells. The results also indicate that release of ATP or UTP across the apical or basolateral membrane elicits qualitatively different effects on ion transport that may ultimately determine the [Na+]/[K+] composition of fluid within the mammary ductal network.