Receptors for biogenic amines such as dopamine, serotonin and epinephrine belong to the family of receptors that interact with G proteins and share a putative seven transmembrane domain structure. Using a strategy based on nucleotide sequence homology between the corresponding genes, we have isolated Drosophila cDNA clones encoding a new member of the G protein-coupled receptor family. This protein exhibits highest homology to the human alpha 2 adrenergic receptors, the human 5HT1A receptor and a recently cloned Drosophila serotonin receptor. The corresponding mRNA is found predominantly in adult Drosophila heads. Membranes from mammalian cells expressing this receptor displayed high affinity binding sites for [3H]yohimbine, an alpha 2 adrenergic receptor antagonist (Kd = 4.45 x 10(-9) M). Tyramine was the most efficient of the putative Drosophila neurotransmitters at displacing [3H]yohimbine binding (EC50 = 1.25 x 10(-6) M). Furthermore tyramine induced an inhibition of adenylate cyclase activity in NIH 3T3 cells expressing this receptor. The Drosophila tyramine receptor that we have isolated might therefore be an invertebrate equivalent of the mammalian alpha 2 adrenergic receptors.