Inactivating mutations in distinct G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are currently being identified as the cause of a steadily growing number of human diseases. Based on previous studies showing that GPCRs are assembled from multiple independently stable folding units, we speculated that such mutant receptors might be functionally rescued by 'supplying' individual folding domains that are lacking or misfolded in the mutant receptors, by using a co-expression strategy. To test the feasibility of this approach, a series of nine mutant V2 vasopressin receptors known to be responsible for X-linked nephrogenic diabetes insipidus were used as model systems. These mutant receptors contained nonsense, frameshift, deletion or missense mutations in the third intracellular loop or the last two transmembrane helices. Studies with transfected COS-7 cells showed that none of these mutant receptors, in contrast to the wild-type V2 receptor, was able to bind detectable amounts of the radioligand, [3H]arginine vasopressin, or to activate the G(S)/adenylyl cyclase system. Moreover, immunological studies demonstrated that the mutant receptors were not trafficked properly to the cell surface. However, several of the nine mutant receptors regained considerable functional activity upon co-expression with a C-terminal V2 receptor peptide spanning the sequence where the various mutations occur. In many cases, the restoration of receptor activity by the co-expressed receptor peptide was accompanied by a significant increase in cell surface receptor density. These findings may lead to the design of novel strategies in the treatment of diseases caused by inactivating mutations in distinct GPCRs.