The recent molecular cloning of the genes and cDNAs encoding multiple somatostatin (SRIF) receptor subtypes has allowed for the individual expression of these receptors in mammalian cells and characterization of their respective pharmacological profiles. Previously, we fully described and compared the pharmacological properties of the first three SRIF receptor subtypes, SRIF receptor type (SSTR)1, SSTR2, and SSTR3. In the present study, we have investigated the properties of the newly cloned SRIF receptor subtypes SSTR4 and SSTR5 with regard to pharmacological profiles, the regulation of high affinity agonist binding to these receptors by stable GTP analogues, Na+, or prior exposure to agonists, and the inhibition of forskolin-stimulated cAMP accumulation mediated by these receptors. We labeled SSTR4 and SSTR5 expressed in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO-K1) and COS-1 cells, respectively, with the metabolically stable SRIF analogue 125I-CGP 23996. Radioligand binding competition studies were performed using SRIF analogues of differing structures, including hexapeptide analogues similar to MK-678, octapeptide analogues similar to SMS 201-995, pentapeptide analogues similar to c[Ahep-Phe-D-Trp-Lys-Thr(Bzl)], and linear SRIF analogues. SSTR4 bound compounds in all structural classes with high to moderate affinities, and several compounds were identified that are > 100-fold selective for SSTR4, compared with the other cloned SRIF receptors, including the linear SRIF analogue BIM-23052 and the CGP 23996-like SRIF analogue L-362,855. In contrast, SSTR5 bound very few SRIF analogues with high affinity. Both receptors could be regulated by prior exposure to agonist. In addition, agonist binding to SSTR4 was reduced by stable GTP analogues, Na+, and pertussis toxin, but agonist binding to SSTR5 was not affected by these treatments. SSTR4 is efficiently coupled to the inhibition of adenylyl cyclase activity, whereas SSTR5 appears not to couple to this cellular effector system. Such differences between the cloned SRIF receptors provide useful strategies for identifying regions of these receptor subtypes that may be involved in ligand-binding specificities and G protein and cellular effector system coupling. The identification of subtype-selective SRIF analogues may lead to more specific therapeutic interventions.