We have tested our prediction that AM630 is a CB2 cannabinoid receptor ligand and also investigated whether L759633 and L759656, are CB2 receptor agonists. Binding assays with membranes from CHO cells stably transfected with human CB1 or CB2 receptors using [3H]-CP55940, confirmed the CB2-selectivity of L759633 and L759656 (CB2/CB1 affinity ratios = 163 and 414 respectively) and showed AM630 to have a Ki at CB2 receptors of 31.2 nM and a CB2/CB1 affinity ratio of 165. In CB2-transfected cells, L759633 and L759656 were potent inhibitors of forskolin-stimulated cyclic AMP production, with EC50 values of 8.1 and 3.1 nM respectively and CB1/CB2 EC50 ratios of > 1000 and > 3000 respectively. AM630 inhibited [35S]-GTPgammaS binding to CB2 receptor membranes (EC50 = 76.6 nM), enhanced forskolin-stimulated cyclic AMP production in CB2-transfected cells (5.2 fold by 1 microM), and antagonized the inhibition of forskolin-stimulated cyclic AMP production in this cell line induced by CP55940. In CB1-transfected cells, forskolin-stimulated cyclic AMP production was significantly inhibited by AM630 (22.6% at 1 microM and 45.9% at 10 microM) and by L759633 at 10 microM (48%) but not 1 microM. L759656 (10 microM) was not inhibitory. AM630 also produced a slight decrease in the mean inhibitory effect of CP55940 on cyclic AMP production which was not statistically significant. We conclude that AM630 is a CB2-selective ligand that behaves as an inverse agonist at CB2 receptors and as a weak partial agonist at CB1 receptors. L759633 and L759656 are both potent CB2-selective agonists.