X-ray microanalysis and fluorescence microscopy (Calcium Orangetrade mark) was used to determine the distribution of intracellular calcium (I(Ca)), in the form of total and ionic calcium respectively, in planulae and settled larvae of a zooxanthellate coral. The distribution of total calcium only was determined in larvae of an azooxanthellate coral. In azooxanthellate planulae and settled larvae, total I(Ca) concentration in the oral ectoderm was high and similar to that in seawater (SW). Calcium concentration did not vary (P > 0.05) between planulae and settled larvae. However, settled larvae accumulated large amounts of calcium in gastrodermal lipid-containing cells. In contrast, zooxanthellate planulae possessed significantly (P < 0.01) lower concentrations of total I(Ca) within ectodermal cells in comparison to settled larvae. In addition, in settled zooxanthellate larvae total calcium concentration in the mesogloea and coelenteron was significantly (P < 0.05) higher than in the oral ectodermal and gastrodermal cells, respectively. Total I(Ca) concentrations in the oral ectoderm of settled larvae were also significantly (P < 0.01) lower than that of the calicoblastic ectoderm. In zooxanthellate settled larvae, ionic I(Ca) levels in the aboral epithelium surrounding rapidly growing septa were high. These levels increased significantly (P < 0.05) within the tissue surrounding growing septa after incubation in high-calcium SW.