Calcium signals affect many developmental processes, including proliferation, migration, survival, and apoptosis, processes that are of particular importance in stem cells intended for cell replacement therapies. The mechanisms underlying Ca(2+) signals, therefore, have a role in determining how stem cells respond to their environment, and how these responses might be controlled in vitro. In this study, we examined the spontaneous Ca(2+) activity in human neural progenitor cells during proliferation and differentiation. Pharmacological characterization indicates that in proliferating cells, most activity is the result of transient receptor potential (TRP) channels that are sensitive to Gd(3+) and La(3+), with the more subtype selective antagonist Ruthenium red also reducing activity, suggesting the involvement of transient receptor potential vanilloid (TRPV) channels. In differentiating cells, Gd(3+) and La(3+)-sensitive TRP channels also appear to underlie the spontaneous activity; however, no sub-type-specific antagonists had any effect. Protein levels of TRPV2 and TRPV3 decreased in differentiated cells, which is demonstrated by western blot. Thus, it appears that TRP channels represent the main route of Ca(2+) entry in human neural progenitor cells (hNPCs), but the responsible channel types are subject to substitution under differentiating conditions. The level of spontaneous activity could be increased and decreased by lowering and raising the extracellular K(+) concentration. Proliferating cells in low K(+) slowed the cell cycle, with a disproportionate increased percentage of cells in G1 phase and a reduction in S phase. Taken together, these results suggest a link between external K(+) concentration, spontaneous Ca(2+) transients, and cell cycle distribution, which is able to influence the fate of stem and progenitor cells.