It was the aim of the present study to determine the affinities of four neuroleptics and five antidepressants for histamine H3 receptors. In rat brain cortex membranes, the specifically bound [3H]-N alpha-methylhistamine was monophasically displaced by clozapine (pKi 6.15). The other drugs did not completely displace the radioligand even at 100 microM; the pKi values were: haloperidol (4.91); sulpiride (4.73); amitriptyline (4.56); desipramine (4.15); levomepromazine (4.14); fluovoxamine (4.13); maprotiline (4.09); moclobemide (< 4.0). The effect of clozapine was further examined in a functional H3 receptor model, i.e., in superfused mouse brain cortex slices preincubated with [3H]-noradrenaline. The electrically evoked tritium overflow was not affected by clozapine 0.5-32 microM. However, clozapine shifted the concentration-response curve of histamine for its inhibitory effect on the evoked overflow to the right, but did not affect the maximum effect of histamine. The Schild plot yielded a pA2 value of 6.33. In conclusion, clozapine shows an intermediate affinity and potency (as a competitive antagonist) at H3 receptors. The Ki value of clozapine at H3 receptors resembles its Ki value at D2 receptors (the target of the classical neuroleptics), but is higher than its Ki values at D4, 5-HT2 or muscarinic acetylcholine receptors, which according to current hypotheses, might be involved in the atypical profile of clozapine.