It is probable that there is a diversity of mechanisms involved in the transduction of bitter taste. One of these mechanisms uses the second messengers, inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) and diacylglycerol (DAG). Partial membrane preparations from circumvallate and foliate taste regions of mice tongues responded to the addition of known bitter taste stimuli by increasing the amount of inositol phosphates produced after 30 s incubation. Addition of both the bitter stimulus, sucrose octaacetate and the G-protein stimulant, GTP gamma S, led to an enhanced production of inositol phosphates compared with either alone. Pretreatment of the tissue samples with pertussis toxin eliminated all response to sucrose octaacetate plus GTP gamma S, whereas pretreatment with cholera toxin was without effect. Western blots of solubilized tissue from circumvallate and foliate regions probed with antibodies to the alpha-subunit of several types of G-proteins revealed bands reactive to antibodies against G alpha i1-2 and G alpha o, with no apparent activity to antibodies against G alpha i3. Given the results from the immunoblots and those of the toxin experiments, it is proposed that the transduction of the bitter taste of sucrose octaacetate in mice involves a receptor-mediated activation of a Gi-type protein which activates a phospholipase C to produce the two second messengers, IP3 and DAG.