In the mouse thoracic aorta, noradrenaline, adrenaline, phenylephrine and methoxamine behaved as full agonists. The pA(2) values for 8-[2-[4-(2-methoxyphenyl)-1-piperazinyl]ethyl]-8-azaspiro[4,5]decane-7,9-dione dihydrochloride (BMY 7378) against each agonist were in good agreement with the generally accepted affinity value of alpha(1D)-adrenoceptors. 5-Methylurapidil, 2-[2,6-dimethoxyphenoxyethyl]aminomethyl-1,4-benzodioxane hydrochloride (WB 4101) and prazosin inhibited the contraction in response to noradrenaline. A significant correlation was obtained between the antagonist affinities in mouse thoracic aorta and those of native alpha(1D)-adrenoceptors in rat thoracic aorta or with those of cloned alpha(1d)-adrenoceptors, but not with those for either alpha(1a)- or alpha(1b)-adrenoceptors. Buspirone behaved as a partial agonist in mouse thoracic aorta, the contraction of which was antagonized by BMY 7378 with a pA(2) value (8.49) consistent with that found against noradrenaline (8.43). Clonidine acted as a partial agonist (pD(2)=5.94). The pK(p) value for clonidine against noradrenaline was similar to the pD(2) value for clonidine. The apparent pK(B) value for BMY 7378 against clonidine was similar to the pA(2) value against other full agonists used in the present study. These results suggest that the alpha(1D)-adrenoceptor subtype exists, and that the full agonists and the partial agonists evoke the contraction mediated through the alpha(1D)-adrenoceptor in mouse thoracic aorta.