1. The receptor-mediated release of endothelium-derived relaxing factor(s) (EDRF) requires the presence of different functional G proteins in endothelial cells. Release of EDRF in response to 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), which involves activation of pertussis toxin-sensitive Gi proteins, is impaired in both regenerated endothelium of the coronary artery following balloon catheterization and in porcine cultured endothelial cells. This study used porcine cultured endothelial cells as a model of regenerated endothelium to determine if the abnormal release of EDRF in response to 5-HT may be associated with the loss of functional pertussis toxin-sensitive Gi proteins. 2. Binding studies on porcine cultured endothelial cells demonstrated specific binding sites for [3H]-5-HT. Scatchard analyses revealed a single binding site for [3H]-5-HT with Kd of 7.2 +/- 3.5 nM and maximal binding (Bmax) of 121.4 +/- 51.3 fmol mg-1 protein. Binding of [3H]-5-HT was displaced by methiothepin (5-HT1 and 5-HT2 antagonist; Ki = 6.2 +/- 1.2 nM), but not by ketanserin (preferential 5-HT2 antagonist). 3. Gi alpha 1 protein was expressed in cultured but not in native endothelial cells. Gi alpha 2 and Gi alpha 3 proteins were expressed to significant levels in porcine native and cultured endothelial cells, as detected by Northern and Western blot analysis. 4. In membranes from cultured endothelial cells, two bands of 40 and 41 kDa, which corresponded to the Gi alpha 2 and the combination of Gi alpha 3-Gi alpha 1 proteins, respectively, were ADP-ribosylated by pertussis toxin. The labelling intensity was Gi alpha 2>Gi alpha 3-Gi alpha l and the amount of ADP-ribosylation was not different between porcine native and cultured endothelial cells. Stimulation of the cultured cells with 5-HT (3 x 10-6 M; 4 min) decreased significantly further ADP-ribosylation of Gi alpha 2 by pertussis toxin, but not that of Gi alpha 3 and/or Gi alpha l.5. The present results suggest that porcine endothelial cell culture may lead to the abnormal expression of Gi alpha l protein and that the dysfunctional release of EDRF from cultured porcine endothelial cells in response to 5-HT is not associated with the loss of Gi alpha proteins or the absence of 5-HT binding sites.