Homomeric rat GABA rho 3 receptors were expressed in Xenopus oocytes, and their pharmacological profile was investigated electrophysiologically. GABA activated the rho 3 receptors with an EC50 value of 7.5 microM and a Hill coefficient of 1.6. The GABA-induced current was not antagonized by bicuculline (100 microM), but was blocked by picrotoxin (IC50: 0.68 microM for 100 microM GABA). The current was almost insensitive to pentobarbital, diazepam and a neurosteroid, 3 alpha-OH-DHP. Many of the pharmacological properties of the rho 3 subunit were similar to those of the previously reported rat rho 1 and rho 2 subunits and GABAC receptors.