LY354740 is a highly potent and selective agonist for recombinant Group II mGlu receptors (mGlu2 and mGlu3), which has anxiolytic and drug withdrawal alleviating properties when administered systemically in rats and mice. The modulation of second messengers by LY354740 in rat brain tissues was investigated to understand the cellular basis for the pharmacological and potential therapeutic actions of LY354740. LY354740 potently decreased forskolin-stimulated cAMP formation in slices of the adult rat hippocampus (EC50=22+/-3 nM) in a stereoselective manner. LY354740 (at 1 microM) greatly (>90%) suppressed forskolin-stimulated cAMP in the cerebral cortex, hippocampus, and striatum, while producing only partial suppression (about 50%) in midbrain regions and olfactory bulb, and no significant cAMP alterations in the cerebellum and brainstem regions. Inhibition of forskolin-stimulated cAMP formation was antagonized by (+)-alpha(-methyl-4-carboxyphenylglycine [(+)MCPG], a competitive mGlu receptor antagonist. LY354740 did not alter phosphoinositide hydrolysis in the rat hippocampus per se, but potentiated stimulation of phophoinositide hydrolysis by the Group I mGlu receptor selective agonist 3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine (DHPG) or stimulation of cAMP formation by the adenosine receptor agonist 5'-N-ethylcarboxamideoadenosine (NECA). These data indicate that LY354740 is a highly potent, efficacious, and selective Group II mGlu receptor (mGlu 2/3) agonist in the rat brain. The potent, stereoselective, and brain region selective actions of LY354740 on mGlu receptor linked second messenger systems likely underlie the in vivo potency and stereoselectivity of this compound in animal models.