The human cholecystokinin B (CCKB) receptor has been isolated from a human temporal cortex cDNA library. Transient transfection of the receptor into COS-M6 cells resulted in high specific binding of 125I-sulphated CCK-8 labelled with Bolton and Hunter Reagent (KD = 31 pM). Competition experiments yielded the expected CCKB receptor ligand binding profile for agonists and antagonists. Similar results were obtained in human small cell lung carcinoma cells, which express an endogenous CCKB receptor. Extensive functional characterization of the receptor was performed in stably transfected HeLa cells using intracellular calcium imaging and microphysiometry techniques. Molecular analysis of the human CCKB receptor using Southern blotting of genomic DNA suggests the presence of a single gene for the CCKB receptor with no closely related homologues. This was confirmed by the polymerase chain reaction cloning of identical receptor coding sequences from human small cell lung carcinoma cells and human gastric enterochromaffin-like cell-oma (ECLoma) tissue.