The aim of this study was to characterize the activity of the cannabinoid CB2 receptor selective antagonist, N-[(1S)-endo-1,3,3-trimethyl bicyclo[2.2.1] heptan-2-yl]-5-(4-chloro-3-methylphenyl)-1-(4-methylbenzyl)-pyrazo le-3-carboxamide] (SR144528) in a number of biochemical assays and to look for evidence of cannabinoid CB2 receptors in the rat central nervous system. SR144528 displaced [3H]CP 55,940 ((-)-3-[2-hydroxyl-4-(1,1-dimethylheptyl)-phenyl]-4-[3-hydroxyprop yl]cyclohexan-1-ol) from binding sites in CB2- and CB1-transfected cells (Ki = 0.67+/-0.30 and 33.0+/-5.09 nM) and from rat cerebellum and whole brain membrane homogenates (Ki = 54.7+/-9.70 and 54.8+/-7.86 nM). In the GTPgammaS binding assay, SR144528 antagonized a number of cannabinoid receptor agonists (K(B) values ranging from 26.3 to 76.6 nM) in rat cerebellar membranes and in rat whole brain membranes (K(B) = 50.8 nM). SR144528 also antagonized CP 55,940-stimulated GTPgammaS binding in a CB2-expressing cell line (K(B) = 6.34 nM). In Xenopus oocytes co-expressing the CB1 receptor and G-protein coupled inwardly rectifying K+ channels (GIRK 1/4), SR144528 antagonized WIN 55212-2((R)-(+)-[2,3-dihydro-5-methyl-3-[(4-morpholinyl)methyl]pyrolo [1,2,3-de]-1,4-benzoxazin-6-yl](1-naphthalenyl)methanone) -stimulated K+ currents (K(B) = 558 nM). In summary, this report characterizes the cannabinoid CB2 receptor-selective cannabinoid antagonist, SR144528, and additionally suggests an absence of cannabinoid CB2 receptors in the rat central nervous system, an observation confirmed by Northern blot.