The amphibian tetradecapeptide bombesin and its mammalian homolog gastrin-releasing peptide are neurotransmitters and paracrine hormones, and are mitogenic for fibroblast and small cell lung carcinoma cell lines. cDNAs encoding the bombesin/gastrin-releasing peptide receptor (BR) expressed by murine Swiss 3T3 fibroblasts were isolated using electrophysiological and luminometric Xenopus oocyte expression assays. Oocytes microinjected with BR transcripts responded to concentrations of bombesin from 1 x 10(-10) to 1 x 10(-6) M. These responses showed homologous desensitization and could be specifically blocked by bombesin antagonists. Sequence analysis showed that the BR has seven membrane-spanning domains and five potential N-linked glycosylation sites. Data base analysis showed that the BR is most homologous to the tachykinin receptors. Although tyrosine kinase activity has been associated with BR function, no tyrosine kinase homologies occur within the BR sequence.