To understand the ligand binding properties of the human GnRH receptor (hGnRH-R), 24 site-specific mutants within transmembrane helices (TMH) 1, 2, and 5 and the extracellular loop 2 (E2) were generated. These mutants were analyzed by using a functional reporter gene assay, monitoring receptor signaling via adenylate cyclase to a cAMP-responsive element fused to Photinus pyralis luciferase. The functional behavior of 14 receptor mutants, capable of G-protein coupling and signaling, was studied in detail with different well described agonistic and antagonistic peptide ligands. Furthermore, the binding constants were determined in displacement binding experiments with the antagonist [125I]Cetrorelix. The substitution of residues K36, Q204, W205, H207, Q208, F20, F213, F216, and S217 for alanine had no or only a marginal effect on ligand binding and signaling. In contrast, substitution of N87, Eg9, D9, R179, W206, Y211, F214, and T215 for alanine resulted in receptor proteins neither capable of ligand binding nor signal transduction. Within those mutants affecting ligand binding and signaling to various degrees, W101A, N102A, and N212Q differentiate between agonists and antagonists. Thus, in addition to N102 already described, the residues W101 in TMH2 and N212 in TMH5 are important for the architecture of the ligand-binding pocket. Based on the experimental data, three-dimensional models for binding of the superagonist D-Trp6-GnRH (Triptorelin) and the antagonist Cetrorelix to the hGnRH-R are proposed. Both decapeptidic ligands are bound to the receptor in a bent conformation with distinct interactions within the binding pocket formed by all TMHs, E2, and E3. The antagonist Cetrorelix with bulky hydrophobic N-terminal amino acids interacts with quite different receptor residues, a hint at the failure to induce an active, G protein-coupling receptor conformation.