Although pharmacological data provide strong evidence for different types of opioid receptors (e.g., mu, delta, and kappa), they share many common properties in their ability to couple to second messenger systems. All opioid receptor types are coupled to G-proteins, since agonist binding is diminished by guanine nucleotides and agonist-stimulated GTPase activity has been identified in several preparations. Moreover, all three types inhibit adenylyl cyclase. This second messenger system has been identified for opioid receptors in both isolated brain membranes and in transformed cell culture. Studies with chronic treatment with opioid agonists suggest that the coupling of receptors with G-proteins and second messenger effectors may play important roles in development of opioid tolerance.