We compared the effects of 50 mM P(i) on caffeine-induced Ca(2+) release in mechanically skinned fast-twitch (FT) and slow-twitch (ST) skeletal muscle fibers of the rat. The time integral (area) of the caffeine response was reduced by approximately 57% (FT) and approximately 27% (ST) after 30 s of exposure to 50 mM P(i) in either the presence or absence of creatine phosphate (to buffer ADP). Differences in the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca(2+) content between FT and ST fibers [ approximately 40% vs. 100% SR Ca(2+) content (pCa 6.7), respectively] did not contribute to the different effects of P(i) observed; underloading the SR of ST fibers so that the SR Ca(2+) content approximated that of FT fibers resulted in an even smaller ( approximately 21%), but not significant, reduction in caffeine-induced Ca(2+) release by P(i). These observed differences between FT and ST fibers could arise from fiber-type differences in the ability of the SR to accumulate Ca(2+)-P(i) precipitate. To test this, fibers were Ca(2+) loaded in the presence of 50 mM P(i). In FT fibers, the maximum SR Ca(2+) content (pCa 6.7) was subsequently increased by up to 13 times of that achieved when loading for 2 min in the absence of P(i). In ST fibers, the SR Ca(2+) content was only doubled. These data show that Ca(2+) release in ST fibers was less affected by P(i) than FT fibers, and this may be due to a reduced capacity of ST SR to accumulate Ca(2+)-P(i) precipitate. This may account, in part, for the fatigue-resistant nature of ST fibers.