The D2 dopamine receptor is known to be functionally coupled to the inhibition of adenylate cyclase when expressed in a number of mammalian cell lines. However, functional coupling of the recently discovered D3 and D4 dopamine receptor subtypes has been more difficult to demonstrate. In this study, human D2, D3 and D4 receptors were stably expressed separately in human embryonic kidney cells (HEK 293). In these cells, activation of D2, D3 or D4 receptors resulted in the inhibition of forskolin-stimulated adenylate cyclase activity in a dose responsive manner. This activation was prevented by pre-incubation of the cells expressing these receptors with the dopaminergic antagonist haloperidol. Radioligand binding studies using [3H]spiperone confirmed that the atypical neuroleptic clozapine has higher affinity for the human D4 receptor than the D3 or D4 receptors, although only 6-fold higher than the D2 receptor in this study. In addition, ribonuclease protection studies demonstrated the presence of D4 dopamine receptor mRNA in human brain regions.