New constrained cyclic pseudopeptide cholecystokinin-B (CCK-B) agonists have been designed on the basis of conformational characteristics of the potent and selective CCK-B agonist Boc-Trp-(NMe)Nle-Asp-Phe-NH2 (Ki = 0.8 nM, selectivity ratio CCK-A/CCK-B > 6000) (Goudreau et al. Biopolymers, 1994, 34, 155-169). These compounds are among the first successful examples of macrocyclic constrained CCK4 analogs endowed with agonist properties and as such may be of value for the development of nonpeptide CCK-B agonists. The affinities and selectivities of these compounds for CCK-B and CCK-A receptors have been determined in vitro by measuring the displacement of [3H]pCCK8 binding to guinea pig cortex and pancreas membranes, respectively. The most potent compound, 8b, N-(cycloamido)-alpha-Me(R)Trp-[(2S)-2-amino-9- ((cycloamido)carbonyl)nonanoyl]-Asp-Phe-NH2, has a Ki value of 15 +/- 1 nM for guinea pig cortex membranes with a good CCK-B selectivity ratio (CCK-A/CCK-B = 147). Furthermore, 8b behaved as a potent and full agonist in a functional assay which measures the stimulation of inositol phosphate accumulation in CHO cells transfected with the rat CCK-B receptor (EC50 = 7 nM). The in vivo affinity of 8b for mouse brain CCK-B receptors was determined following intracerebroventricular injection (ID50 approximately 29 nmol/kg). 8b was also shown to cross the blood-brain barrier (0.16%), after intravenous administration in mice. 8b also increased gastric acid secretion measured in anesthetized rats after intravenous injection. Therefore, 8b appears to be an interesting pharmacological tool and is currently under investigation as a lead for further development of nonpeptide CCK-B agonists.