We previously reported the cloning of two distinct somatostatin receptor (SSTR) subtypes, SSTR1 and SSTR2. Although both SSTR1 and SSTR2 bound somatostatin specifically and with high affinity, neither was coupled to adenylyl cyclase, a major cellular effector of somatostatin's actions. Here we report the cloning and functional characterization of a third member of the SSTR family. Human SSTR3 is a protein of 418 amino acids and has 45% and 46% identity with human SSTR1 and SSTR2, respectively. RNA blotting studies showed that SSTR3 mRNA could be readily detected in brain and pancreatic islets. The pharmacological properties of human SSTR3 were characterized by transiently expressing the human SSTR3 gene in COS-1 cells. Membranes from cells expressing human SSTR3 bound the somatostatin agonist [125I]CGP 23996 specifically and with high affinity, with a rank order of potency of somatostatin-28 = CGP 23996 > somatostatin-14 > SMS-201-995. Studies using cells transiently coexpressing the human dopamine D1 receptor and human SSTR3 showed that somatostatin was able to inhibit dopamine-stimulated cAMP formation in a dose-dependent manner, indicating that SSTR3 was functionally coupled to adenylyl cyclase. These results indicate that the diverse biological effects of somatostatin are mediated by a family of receptor with distinct, but overlapping, tissue distributions, unique pharmacological properties, and potentially different functions.