Vasomotion consists of cyclic arterial diameter variations induced by synchronous contractions and relaxations of smooth muscle cells. However, the arteries do not contract simultaneously on macroscopic distances, and a propagation of the contraction can be observed. In the present study, our aim was to investigate this propagation. We stimulated endothelium-denuded rat mesenteric arterial strips with phenylephrine (PE) to obtain vasomotion and observed that the contraction waves are linked to intercellular calcium waves. A velocity of ∼100 μm/s was measured for the two kinds of waves. To investigate the calcium wave propagation mechanisms, we used a method allowing a PE stimulation of a small area of the strip. No calcium propagation could be induced by this local stimulation when the strip was in its resting state. However, if a low PE concentration was added on the whole strip, local PE stimulations induced calcium waves, spreading over finite distances. The calcium wave velocity induced by local stimulation was identical to the velocity observed during vasomotion. This suggests that the propagation mechanisms are similar in the two cases. Using inhibitors of gap junctions and of voltage-operated calcium channels, we showed that the locally induced calcium propagation likely depends on the propagation of the smooth muscle cell depolarization. Finally, we proposed a model of the propagation mechanisms underlying these intercellular calcium waves. Copyright © 2005 by the American Physiological Society.