1. A cloned 5-HT1C receptor expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes was used to characterize the action of four dopamine D1-selective benzazepines at the 5-HT1C receptor. Additionally, the apparent binding of the D1-selective benzazepines to 5-HT1C receptors was measured in the choroid plexus of the pig. 2. In voltage-clamped oocytes expressing the cloned 5-HT1C receptor, 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) elicited a characteristic inward current response with an EC50 of 13 nM. SCH 23390 acted as a stereoselective agonist (or partial agonist) with an EC50 of about 550 nM. SKF 38393 (1 microM-1 mM), SKF 77434 (100 microM), and SKF 82958 (100 microM) also acted as agonists (or partial agonists) at the cloned 5-HT1C receptor. SKF 38393 was not stereoselective at the 5-HT1C receptor. 3. The response to SCH 23390 activated slowly and, although the response contained many oscillations characteristic of the activation of the phosphatidylinositol signal transduction system, SCH 23390 rarely elicited the rapid spike-like response seen routinely in response to 5-HT. However, the responses to SKF 38393, SKF 77434, and SKF 82958 were identical in appearance to the response to 5-HT, except that the responses to the benzazepines were smaller. These comparisons were made by applying both a benzazepine and 5-HT to each individual oocyte expressing the cloned 5-HT1C receptor. 4. Consistent with the responses measured in oocytes, SCH 23390 bound stereoselectively to 5-HT1C receptors in the choroid plexus of the pig (Ki = 6.3 nM), and SKF 38393 bound non-stereoselectively with lower affinity (Ki = 2.0-2.2 microM).5. It is concluded that while these benzazepines demonstrate selectivity for the dopamine D1 receptor, they also can act as agonists or partial agonists at the 5-HT1c receptor in situ and as expressed in Xenopus oocytes. The oocyte expression system is useful for studies of the functional pharmacology of these 5-HTic receptors. Information about the pharmacological actions and variations in stereoselectivity among dopamine and 5-HT receptors should be of interest in modelling the interactions of ligands with these G-protein coupled receptors, and in the testing of such models through receptor mutagenesis.