1-desamino-8-D-arginine vasopressin (DDAVP) is considered a standard vasopressin V2 receptor-selective agonist with a potent antidiuretic effect through V2 receptor without the induction of vasoconstriction through V1a receptor. Furthermore, DDAVP was reported to act as an agonist on non-V1a, non-V2 receptor to cause the accumulation of intracellular Ca2+ in several tissues. However, the agonistic activity of DDAVP against the other vasopressin receptor, V1b (or V3), which can accumulate intracellular Ca2+ and which we recently cloned, has not been clarified. Hence, we compared the characteristics of DDAVP on V1b receptor with those on the other vasopressin receptors. In binding experiments, DDAVP more strongly inhibited [3H]arginine vasopressin binding to V1b than to V2 receptor (Ki: 5.84 nM vs 65.9 nM). In addition, DDAVP dose-dependently stimulated inositol turnover in human V1b receptor-expressing COS-1 cells. DDAVP acted as a full agonist on human V1b receptor (EC50: 11.4 nM) as well as on human V2 receptor (EC50: 23.9 nM). However, DDAVP behaved as a partial agonist toward rat V1b receptor (intrinsic activity: 0.7, EC50: 43.5 nM), while there was no significant difference in the agonistic properties of arginine vasopressin on human and rat V1b receptor. In conclusion, DDAVP acts as an agonist on V1b receptor, as it does on V2 receptor. These findings will allow us to better understand the physiological role of V1b receptor in pancreatic beta cells and in the renal inner medullary collecting duct, and help us to identify as yet unknown vasopressin receptors through which DDAVP cause the accumulation of intracellular Ca2+ in other tissues.