A novel receptor cDNA was isolated from a human hippocampal cDNA library. The encoded polypeptide contains structural features consistent with its classification as a G protein-coupled receptor and shares 45% homology with the human A1 and A2a adenosine receptors. Chinese hamster ovary K1 cells expressing this receptor showed marked stimulation of adenylate cyclase when treated with 1mM adenosine. There was no response to ligands selective for A1 and A2a receptors but the general adenosine agonist N-ethylcarboxyamidoadenosine (NECA) caused a 10 fold increase in cyclic AMP accumulation with an EC50 of approximately 0.9 microM. This effect was inhibited by the adenosine receptor antagonist theophylline. Specific binding of A1 and A2a selective agonists and NECA was not detected. It is proposed that the novel receptor is a human brain adenosine A2b receptor subtype.