A substantial body of evidence shows the capacity of the dopamine D3 receptor to couple functionally to G proteins when expressed in an appropriate milieu in heterologous expression systems. In these systems, activation of D3 receptors inhibits adenylate cyclase, modulates ion flow through potassium and calcium channels, and activates kinases, most notably mitogen-activated protein kinase. Coupling to Gi/Go is implicated in many of these effects, but other G proteins may contribute. Studies with chimeric receptors implicate the third intracellular loop in the mediation of agonist-induced signal transduction. Finally, D3-preferring drugs modulate expression of c-fos in neuronal cultures and brain. Signaling mechanisms of the D3 receptor in brain, however, remain to be definitively determined.