To increase our knowledge of human peripheral vasospasm we characterized the contractile 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) receptors in human superficial hand vein segments in vitro. The 5-HT1 receptor agonist, sumatriptan, the 5-HT2 receptor agonist, dl-alpha-methyl-5-HT, and the 5-HT3 receptor agonist, 2-methyl-5-HT, all induced concentration-dependent contractions. The contractile response to sumatriptan was antagonized by the non-selective 5-HT receptor antagonist, methiothepin, but was unaffected by the 5-HT2 receptor antagonist, ketanserin. The contractile response to dl-alpha-methyl-5-HT was antagonized by both methiothepin and ketanserin. The contraction elicited by 2-methyl-5-HT was not affected by the 5-HT3 receptor antagonist, MDL 72222, but was antagonized by ketanserin. The results suggest that serotonergic contraction in the human superficial hand vein involves both 5-HT1 and 5-HT2 but not 5-HT3 receptors. Such receptor heterogeneity in human blood vessels should be considered when using drugs and when designing future compounds for medical use.