The pharmacological properties of the human D2L (long isoform) and rat D3 dopamine receptors in functional assays were examined. A range of dopamine agonists were assessed for their ability to inhibit adenosine 3'5'-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP) accumulation via the two receptors expressed stably in Chinese hamster ovary cells. Dopamine caused a significantly greater maximal inhibition (P < 0.05) of cAMP accumulation via the D2L receptor (approximately 70%) as compared to the D3 receptor (approximately 50%). The pattern of agonist effects was different at the two receptors. The absolute and relative potencies for inhibition of cAMP accumulation were different for a range of agonists acting at the two receptors. Similarly, the maximal inhibitions achieved by a range of agonists were different for the two receptors.