The aim of the present investigation was to study and compare the in vitro binding properties of the two radioligands N-[3H]methylspiperone ([3H]NMSP) and [3H]raclopride. These compounds, labeled with 11C, have been extensively used in positron emission tomography studies on central dopamine D2 receptors in schizophrenic patients, although with diverging results. One study (using [11C]NMSP) showed an increased dopamine receptor density in drug-naive schizophrenic patients, whereas in another study (using [11C]raclopride) the density in schizophrenic patients was no different from that in healthy controls. In the present study, using in vitro binding techniques, the density of the binding sites was found to be similar irrespective of which of the two radioligands was used (20 fmol/mg wet weight in rat striatum and 10 fmol/mg in human putamen; the 5-hydroxytryptamine 2 receptors were blocked with 40 nM ketanserin). [3H]NMSP had a 10-fold higher affinity (KD, 0.3 nM in rat striatum and 0.2 nM in human putamen) than [3H]raclopride (KD, 2.1 nM in rat striatum and 3.9 nM in human putamen), which was consistent with the longer dissociation half-life of [3H]NMSP compared with [3H]raclopride (14.8 and 1.19 min, respectively). There was an approximate overall similarity between the inhibition constants for five dopamine antagonists, chlorpromazine, haloperidol, raclopride, remoxipride, and NMSP, when using either radioligand. The Ki values were, however, two- to four-fold higher when using [3H]NMSP as the radioligand, irrespective of inhibiting compound, except for chlorpromazine (and haloperidol in human putamen). NMSP was found to inhibit the binding of [3H]raclopride competitively, whereas raclopride inhibited the binding of [3H]NMSP both competitively and noncompetitively. This difference suggests that part of the binding site is exclusively used by NMSP and can only be allosterically interfered with by raclopride. It is proposed that [3H]NMSP binds to an additional set of accessory binding sites, presumably located more distantly from the agonist binding active site than the sites to which [3H]raclopride binds.