1. BIIE0246, a newly synthesized non-peptide neuropeptide Y (NPY) Y(2) receptor antagonist, was able to compete with high affinity (8 to 15 nM) for specific [(125)I]PYY(3 - 36) binding sites in HEK293 cells transfected with the rat Y(2) receptor cDNA, and in rat brain and human frontal cortex membrane homogenates. 2. Interestingly, in rat brain homogenates while NPY, C2-NPY and PYY(3 - 36) inhibited all specific [(125)I]PYY(3 - 36) labelling, BIIE0246 failed to compete for all specific binding suggesting that [(125)I]PYY(3 - 36) recognized, in addition to the Y(2) subtype, another population of specific NPY binding sites, most likely the Y(5) receptor. 3. Quantitative receptor autoradiographic data confirmed the presence of [(125)I]PYY(3 - 36)/BIIE0246-sensitive (Y(2)) and-insensitive (Y(5)) binding sites in the rat brain as well as in the marmoset monkey and human hippocampal formation. 4. In the rat vas deferens and dog saphenous vein (two prototypical Y(2) bioassays), BIIE0246 induced parallel shifts to the right of NPY concentration-response curves with pA(2) values of 8.1 and 8.6, respectively. In the rat colon (a Y(2)/Y(4) bioassay), BIIE0246 (1 microM) completely blocked the contraction induced by PYY(3 - 36), but not that of [Leu(31), Pro(34)]NPY (a Y(1), Y(4) and Y(5) agonist) and hPP (a Y(4) and Y(5) agonist). Additionally, BIIE0246 failed to alter the contractile effects of NPY in prototypical Y(1) in vitro bioassays. 5. Taken together, these results demonstrate that BIIE0246 is a highly potent, high affinity antagonist selective for the Y(2) receptor subtype. It should prove most useful to establish further the functional role of the Y(2) receptor in the organism.