The selective regulation of Gs (long and short forms), Gi's (1, 2, and 3), and Go by the beta-adrenergic receptor was assessed quantitatively after coreconstitution of purified receptor, purified G-protein beta gamma subunits, and individual recombinant G-protein alpha subunits that were expressed in and purified from Escherichia coli. Receptor and beta gamma subunits were incorporated into phospholipid vesicles, and the alpha subunits bound to the vesicles stoichiometrically with respect to beta gamma. Efficient regulation of alpha subunit by receptor required the presence of beta gamma. Regulation of G proteins was measured according to the stimulation of the initial rate of GTP gamma S binding, steady-state GTPase activity, and equilibrium GDP/GDP exchange. The assays yielded qualitatively similar results. GDP/GDP exchange was a first-order reaction for each subunit. The rate constant increased linearly with the concentration of agonist-liganded receptor, and the dependence of the rate constant on receptor concentration was a reproducible measurement of the efficiency with which receptor regulated each G protein. Reconstituted alpha s (long or short form) was stimulated by receptor to approximately the extent described previously for natural Gs. Both alpha i,1 and alpha i,3 were regulated with 25-33% of that efficiency. Stimulation of alpha o and alpha i,2 was weak, and stimulation of alpha o was barely detectable over its high basal exchange rate. Reduction of the receptor with dithiothreitol increased the exchange rates for all G proteins but did not alter the relative selectivity of the receptor.