As part of our ongoing research program aimed at the identification of highly potent, selective, and systemically active agonists for group II metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors, we have prepared novel heterobicyclic amino acids (-)-2-oxa-4-aminobicyclo[3.1. 0]hexane-4,6-dicarboxylate (LY379268, (-)-9) and (-)-2-thia-4-aminobicyclo[3.1.0]hexane-4,6-dicarboxylate (LY389795, (-)-10). Compounds (-)-9 and (-)-10 are structurally related to our previously described nanomolar potency group II mGlu receptor agonist, (+)-2-aminobicyclo[3.1.0]hexane-2,6-dicarboxylate monohydrate (LY354740 monohydrate, 5), with the C4-methylene unit of 5 being replaced with either an oxygen atom (as in (-)-9) or a sulfur atom (as in (-)-10). Compounds (-)-9 and (-)-10 potently and stereospecifically displaced specific binding of the mGlu2/3 receptor antagonist ([3H]LY341495) in rat cerebral cortical homogenates, displaying IC50 values of 15 +/- 4 and 8.4 +/- 0.8 nM, respectively, while having no effect up to 100 000 nM on radioligand binding to the glutamate recognition site on NMDA, AMPA, or kainate receptors. Compounds (-)-9 and (-)-10 also potently displaced [3H]LY341495 binding from membranes expressing recombinant human group II mGlu receptor subtypes: (-)-9, Ki = 14.1 +/- 1.4 nM at mGlu2 and 5.8 +/- 0.64 nM at mGlu3; (-)-10, Ki = 40.6 +/- 3.7 nM at mGlu2 and 4.7 +/- 1.2 nM at mGlu3. Evaluation of the functional effects of (-)-9 and (-)-10 on second-messenger responses in nonneuronal cells expressing human mGlu receptor subtypes demonstrated each to be a highly potent agonist for group II mGlu receptors: (-)-9, EC50 = 2.69 +/- 0.26 nM at mGlu2 and 4.58 +/- 0.04 nM at mGlu3; (-)-10, EC50 = 3.91 +/- 0.81 nM at mGlu2 and 7.63 +/- 2. 08 nM at mGlu3. In contrast, neither compound (up to 10 000 nM) displayed either agonist or antagonist activity in cells expressing recombinant human mGlu1a, mGlu5a, mGlu4a, or mGlu7a receptors. The agonist effects of (-)-9 and (-)-10 at group II mGlu receptors were not totally specific, however, as mGlu6 agonist activity was observed at high nanomolar concentrations for (-)-9 (EC50 = 401 +/- 46 nM) and at micromolar concentrations (EC50 = 2 430 +/- 600 nM) for (-)-10; furthermore, each activated mGlu8 receptors at micromolar concentrations (EC50 = 1 690 +/- 130 and 7 340 +/- 2 720 nM, respectively). Intraperitoneal administration of either (-)-9 or (-)-10 in the mouse resulted in a dose-related blockade of limbic seizure activity produced by the nonselective group I/group II mGluR agonist (1S,3R)-ACPD ((-)-9 ED50 = 19 mg/kg, (-)-10 ED50 = 14 mg/kg), indicating that these molecules effectively cross the blood-brain barrier following systemic administration and suppress group I mGluR-mediated limbic excitation. Thus, heterobicyclic amino acids (-)-9 and (-)-10 are novel pharmacological tools useful for exploring the functions of mGlu receptors in vitro and in vivo.