The synthesis and pharmacological properties of a novel type of [(arylpiperazinyl)alkoxy]-4H-1-benzopyran-4-ones with dopaminergic activity are described. The nature of the arylpiperazine (AP) moiety determines the dopamine (DA) agonist/antagonist character of this series of compounds; when the aryl portion of the AP is unsubstituted the compounds appear to be DA autoreceptor agonists while substituted aryl groups seem to impart DA antagonist activity. A heterocyclic piperazine, 7-[3-[4-(2-pyridinyl)-1-piperazinyl]propoxy]-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one (31, PD 119819) has been identified as an extremely selective DA autoreceptor agonist in tests that include [3H]haloperidol binding, inhibition of spontaneous locomotor activity, inhibition of brain DA synthesis, inhibition of brain DA neuronal firing, stereotypy assessment, and reversal of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) induced akinesia in rats. In addition, 31 possesses good oral activity in the Sidman avoidance test in squirrel monkeys, a predictor of clinical antipsychotic efficacy. In another primate model, 31 has been found to lack the liability for extrapyramidal side effects observed with currently available antipsychotic drugs.