A nonpeptide ligand, L-162,313 (5,7-dimethyl-2-ethyl-3-[[4-[2(n-butyloxycarbonylsulfonamido)-5-is obutyl-3-thienyl]phenyl]methyl]imidazo[4,5,6]pyridine) was characterized on the angiotensin II receptors. This compound displaced [125I][Sar1]angiotensin II from rat angiotensin AT1A, AT1B or AT2 receptor individually expressed in COS-7 cells (Ki = 207 nM, 226 nM and 276 nM, respectively). In monkey kidney cells expressing angiotensin AT1A or AT1B receptors, it stimulated inositol phosphate accumulation, but the maximal response was 34.9 and 23.3%, respectively, of those of angiotensin II. Furthermore, an antagonist effect of L-162.313 was observed in response to angiotensin II. Single-point substitutions in the second and third transmembrane domains of the rat angiotensin AT1A receptor, which impaired the binding of losartan (2-n-butyl-4-chloro-5-hydroxymethyl-1[(1H-tetrazol-5-yl)biphenyl-4 -yl)methyl]imidazole), also affected the binding of L-162,313. Losartan and L-162,313 require some common structural determinants for non-peptide recognition on the angiotensin AT1 receptor. Furthermore, some of these substitutions, which impaired the inositol phosphate accumulation in response to angiotensin II, also impaired the response to L-162,313. Angiotensin II and L-162,313 require common critical residues for angiotensin AT1 receptor activation.