In glial cell cultures, iodothyronine 5'-deiodinase type II is stimulated by dibutyryl cAMP. Serum-free medium increases enzyme activity and prolongs the half-life of the enzyme. T4 and rT3 specifically inhibit this activity. We tested whether enzyme inactivation by T4 was mediated by changes in cytosolic free calcium concentration and/or phospholipid turnover. Intracellular calcium concentration was decreased either by chelation of extracellular calcium or by chelation of extracellular and intracellular calcium. Neither basal hypothyroid 5'-deiodinase activity nor its inactivation by T4 were modified in such experimental conditions, compared with control cells incubated in normal calcium-containing medium. T4 by itself had no effect on the cytosolic free calcium concentration for up to 20 min. Studies on phospholipid turnover included norepinephrine in parallel to T4 as positive stimulation control. While norepinephrine clearly accelerated phosphoinositide turnover, there was no effect of T4 on any phospholipid turnover. These results suggest that neither cytosolic free calcium nor phospholipid turnover is involved in T4-dependent modulation of 5'-deiodinase type II activity in astrocytes in culture.