Delta9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) displaced [(3)H]CP55940 from specific binding sites on mouse brain and CHO-hCB(2) cell membranes (K(i)=75.4 and 62.8 nM, respectively).THCV (1 microM) also antagonized CP55940-induced stimulation of [(35)S]GTPgammaS binding to these membranes (apparent K(B)=93.1 and 10.1 nM, respectively). In the mouse vas deferens, the ability of Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to inhibit electrically evoked contractions was antagonized by THCV, its apparent K(B)-value (96.7 nM) approximating the apparent K(B)-values for its antagonism of CP55940- and R-(+)-WIN55212-induced stimulation of [(35)S]GTPgammaS binding to mouse brain membranes. THCV also antagonized R-(+)-WIN55212, anandamide, methanandamide and CP55940 in the vas deferens, but with lower apparent K(B)-values (1.5, 1.2, 4.6 and 10.3 nM, respectively).THCV (100 nM) did not oppose clonidine, capsaicin or (-)-7-hydroxy-cannabidiol-dimethylheptyl-induced inhibition of electrically evoked contractions of the vas deferens. Contractile responses of the vas deferens to phenylephrine hydrochloride or beta,gamma-methylene-ATP were not reduced by 1microM THCV or R-(+)-WIN55212, suggesting that THCV interacts with R-(+)-WIN55212 at prejunctional sites. At 32 microM, THCV did reduce contractile responses to phenylephrine hydrochloride and beta,gamma-methylene-ATP, and above 3 microM it inhibited electrically evoked contractions of the vas deferens in an SR141716A-independent manner. In conclusion, THCV behaves as a competitive CB(1) and CB(2) receptor antagonist. In the vas deferens, it antagonized several cannabinoids more potently than THC and was also more potent against CP55940 and R-(+)-WIN55212 in this tissue than in brain membranes. The bases of these agonist- and tissue-dependent effects remain to be established.