In this article we review serotonergic signal transduction mechanisms in the central and peripheral nervous systems and in a variety of target organs. The various classes of pharmacologically defined serotonergic receptors are coupled to three major effector systems: (1) adenylate cyclase; (2) phospholipase C mediated phosphoinositide (PI) hydrolysis and (3) ion channels (K+ and Ca++). Long term occupancy of serotonergic receptors also appears to induce alterations in mRNA and protein synthesis. For all three types of signal transduction there is evidence accumulating which suggests the involvement of guanine nucleotide regulatory proteins. Recent findings suggest that the distinct types of pharmacologically defined serotonergic receptors (5HT1A, 5HT1B, 5HT1c, 5HT2) may be coupled to one or more signal transduction systems. Thus, 5HT1 receptors may both activate and inhibit adenylate cyclase and increase K+-ion conductance in the hippocampus. 5HT2 receptors which activate PI hydrolysis in the brain, both open voltage-gated calcium channels and activate PI metabolism in certain smooth muscle preparations. Thus, each class of serotonergic receptor may be linked to one or more distinct biochemical transduction mechanisms. The possibility is raised that selective agonists and antagonists might be developed which have specific effects on a particular receptor-linked effector system.