The peptidomimetic thrombin inhibitor CRC 220, 4-methoxy-2,3,6-trimethylphenylsulfonyl-L-aspartyl-D-4-amidinop henylalanyl- piperidide, is taken up into isolated rat hepatocytes through active, carrier-mediated transport. This uptake is inhibited by bile acids. Functional expression in Xenopus laevis oocytes was performed to identify the transport system responsible for the hepatocellular CRC 220 uptake. Injection of poly(A)+RNA in X. laevis oocytes resulted in a two- to three-times higher uptake of CRC 220, compared with uninjected or water-injected control oocytes. Taurocholate (200 mumol/L) inhibited this uptake completely. No uptake of the peptidomimetic thrombin inhibitor was observed, when X. laevis oocytes were injected with complementary RNA (cRNA) encoding either the cloned rat liver Na(+)-dependent taurocholate transporter Ntcp, the renal oligopeptide carrier rhaPT or the intestinal oligopeptide transporter PepT1. However, after injection of cRNA of the cloned rat liver Na(+)-independent organic anion transporting polypeptide oatp, a specific and saturable CRC 220 uptake was observed (Michaelis-Menten constant 29.5 mumol/L). Cis-inhibition with known oatp-substrates, e.g., 20 mumol/L Bromsulphalein (BSP), 2007 mumol/L taurocholate and 2007 mumol/L cholate, occurred in oatp-expressing X. laevis oocytes, whereas substrates of the two peptide carriers as well as dipeptide- and single-amino acid constituents of the thrombin inhibitor itself lacked any significant inhibitory effects. These data show that the modified dipeptide CRC 220 is a highly selective substrate of the organic anion transporting polypeptide oatp in the basolateral plasma membrane of rat hepatocytes.