We have cloned a guinea pig Vanilloid receptor 1 (VR1) from a dorsal root ganglion cDNA library and expressed it in CHO cells. The receptor has been functionally characterized by measuring changes in intracellular calcium produced by capsaicin, low pH and noxious heat. Capsaicin produced a concentration-dependent increase in intracellular calcium in guinea pig VR1-CHO cells with an estimated EC(50) of 0.17 +/- 0.0065 micro M, similar to that previously reported for rat and human VR1. Olvanil and resiniferatoxin were also effective agonists (EC(50) values of 0.0087 +/- 0.0035 micro M and 0.067 +/- 0.014 micro M, respectively), but 12-phenylacetate 13-acetate 20-homovanillate (PPAHV) and anandamide showed little agonist activity up to 10 micro M. As with human and rat VR1, guinea pig VR1 was also activated by pH below 6.0 and by noxious heat (>42 degrees C). Capsazepine acted as an antagonist of capsaicin responses in guinea pig VR1-CHO cells (IC(50) of 0.324 +/- 0.041 micro M ), as seen at rat VR1. However, in contrast to its lack of activity against pH and heat responses at rat VR1, capsazepine was an effective antagonist of these responses at guinea pig VR1. Capsazepine displayed an IC(50) of 0.355 +/- 25 micro M against pH 5.5, and provided complete blockade of heat responses at 1 micro M. Thus, capsazepine can significantly inhibit calcium influx due to heat and pH 5.5 at guinea pig VR1 and human VR1 but is inactive against these activators at rat VR1.