In particulate preparations from guinea-pig ventricle, histamine in the concentration range 10(-6)--10(-3) M caused a 3--5fold stimulation of adenylate cyclase activity which was dependent on the presence of GTP. The effects of fourteen analogs of histamine were examined on this cyclase preparation. Five of the compounds studied proved to be partial agonists relative to histamine while nine others had essentially the same intrinsic activity as histamine. The intrinsic activities of the partial agonists were increased by GppNHp to the extent that dimaprit, which was a partial agonist in the presence of GTP, became a full agonist in the presence of GppNHp. The relative potencies of the full agonists as activators of the cyclase were found to correlate with the relative potencies on physiologically defined H2 receptor systems. Activation of the cyclase by histamine, as well as by several of the agonist analogs, including dimaprit and tolazoline, was completely blocked by the H2 antagonist cimetidine, but was not affected by pharmacologically relevant concentrations of the H1 antagonist mepyramine, the beta-blocker alprenolol, or the alpha-blocker phentolamine. The results suggest that all the agonists studied probably interact with a common H2 receptor site on the cardiac muscle cell leading to activation of adenylate cyclase. The accompanying increase in cyclic AMP is presumably responsible for the chronotropic and inotropic effects of histamine and related compounds on cardiac muscle.