Dopamine receptors belong to the seven transmembrane helix-containing, G protein-coupled receptor superfamily. Mutagenesis studies suggest that dopamine and its analogues interact with aspartate-114 in helix 3 and two helix 5 serines (194 and 197) of the D2 receptor. In addition to these amino acids, hydrophobic residues within the receptor core may be important not only for binding but also for receptor activation. Described is a site-directed mutagenesis investigation into the roles of these hydrophobic residues in the long isoform of the human D2 receptor. Replacement of helix 6 phenylalanines (389 or 390) with alanines resulted in disrupted binding to several agonists and antagonists and impaired inhibition of adenylyl cyclase activity. Replacement of the helix 5 phenylalanine-198 with an alanine selectively disrupted [3H]N-0437 binding, whereas the affinities for other agonists and antagonists remained unchanged. This mutant remained functionally intact when stimulated with dopamine or bromocriptine. Replacement of the helix 7 phenylalanine-411 or the helix 6 leucine-387 with alanines produced receptors that bound agonists well but were unable to inhibit adenylyl cyclase. Based on these data, two conserved helix 6 phenylalanines (389 and 390) appear to be crucial for ligand binding, and phenylalanine-411 in helix 7 and leucine-387 in helix 6 may be important for propagating conformational changes from the agonist binding site(s) to G protein coupling domain(s) of the D2 receptor.