We have described the pharmacologic profiles of endothelin B receptors in human endothelial cells and vascular and nonvascular smooth-muscle cells. First, by amplifying endothelin B receptor numbers through the use of phosphoramidon and intact cell-binding techniques, we demonstrated the presence of these receptors in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (100% endothelin B receptors), human aortic smooth-muscle cells (22% endothelin B, 78% endothelin A receptors), and human bronchial smooth-muscle cells (55% endothelin B, 45% endothelin A receptors) by using [125I]-endothelin-1 radioligand binding. The typical binding profiles of the endothelin B receptors were established through competition binding curve analysis with endothelin-1, endothelin-3, sarafotoxin 6c, and the endothelin A receptor-selective antagonist BQ-123. In the presence of BQ-123, a diverse group of antagonists, including PD 142893, BQ-788, SB 209670, and Ro 47-0203, were used to probe for binding differences indicative of multiple endothelin B-receptor subtypes. The results indicate a rank order of potency for the antagonists of BQ-788 > SB 209670 > PD 142893 > Ro 47-0203 for each cell line, and that between any of these human cell lines, measurements of [125I]-endothelin-1-binding antagonism for each of the four test compounds differed by less than twofold. Although this study cannot discount the possibility of more than one endothelin B-receptor subtype in humans, it does indicate that these tissues express receptors that show equivalent binding pharmacology.