Bafilomycin A1 (Baf) induces an elevation of cytosolic Ca(2+) and acidification in neuronal cells via inhibition of the V-ATPase. Also, Baf uncouples mitochondria in differentiated PC12 ((d)PC12), (d)SH-SY5Y cells and cerebellar granule neurons, and markedly elevates their respiration. This respiratory response in (d)PC12 is accompanied by morphological changes in the mitochondria and decreases the mitochondrial pH, Ca(2+) and żżm. The response to Baf is regulated by cytosolic Ca(2+) fluxes from the endoplasmic reticulum. Inhibition of permeability transition pore opening increases the depolarizing effect of Baf on the żżm. Baf induces stochastic flickering of the żżm with a period of 20 ħ 10 s. Under conditions of suppressed ATP production by glycolysis, oxidative phosphorylation impaired by Baf does not provide cells with sufficient ATP levels. Cells treated with Baf become more susceptible to excitation with KCl. Such mitochondrial uncoupling may play a role in a number of (patho)physiological conditions induced by Baf.