Trophoblasts are specialized epithelial cells of the placenta that are involved in invasion, communication and the exchange of materials between the mother and fetus. Cytoplasmic Ca2+ ([Ca2+](c)) plays critical roles in regulating such processes in other cell types, but relatively little is known about the mechanisms that control this second messenger in trophoblasts. In the current study, the presence of RyRs and their accessory proteins in placental tissues and in the BeWo choriocarcinoma, a model trophoblast cell-line, were examined using immunohistochemistry and Western immunoblotting. Contributions of RyRs to Ca2+ signalling and to random migration in BeWo cells were investigated using fura-2 fluorescent and brightfield videomicroscopy. The effect of RyR inhibition on reorganization of the F-actin cytoskeleton elicited by the hormone angiotensin II, was determined using phalloidin-labelling and confocal microscopy. RyR1 and RyR3 proteins were detected in trophoblasts of human first trimester and term placental villi, along with the accessory proteins triadin and calsequestrin. Similarly, RyR1, RyR3, triadin and calsequestrin were detected in BeWo cells. In this cell-line, activation of RyRs with micromolar ryanodine increased [Ca2+](c), whereas pharmacological inhibition of these channels reduced Ca2+ transients elicited by the peptide hormones angiotensin II, arginine vasopressin and endothelin 1. Angiotensin II increased the velocity, total distance and Euclidean distance of random migration by BeWo cells and these effects were significantly reduced by tetracaine and by inhibitory concentrations of ryanodine. RyRs contribute to reorganization of the F-actin cytoskeleton elicited by angiotensin II, since inhibition of these channels restores the parallelness of these structures to control levels. These findings demonstrate that trophoblasts contain a suite of proteins similar to those in other cell types possessing highly developed Ca2+ signal transduction systems, such as skeletal muscle. They also indicate that these channels regulate the migration of trophoblast cells, a process that plays a key role in development of the placenta.