5-HT(1A) receptors are implicated in the aetiology of schizophrenia. Herein, the influence of 15 antipsychotics on the binding of the selective 'neutral' antagonist, [3H]WAY100,635 ([3H]N-[2-[4-(2-methoxyphenyl)-1-piperazinyl]ethyl]-N-(2-pyridinyl)-cyclo-hexanecarboxamide), was examined at human 5-HT(1A) receptors expressed in Chinese Hamster Ovary cells. In competition binding experiments, 5-HT displayed biphasic isotherms which were shifted to the right in the presence of the G-protein uncoupling agent, GTPgammaS (100 microM). In analogy, the isotherms of ziprasidone, quetiapine and S16924 (((R-2-[1-[2-(2,3-dihydro-benzo[1,4]dioxin-5-yloxy)-ethyl]-pyrrolidin-3yl]-1-(4-fluoro-phenyl)-ethanone), were displaced to the right by GTPgammaS, consistent with agonist actions. Binding of several other antipsychotics, such as ocaperidone, olanzapine and risperidone, was little influenced by GTPgammaS. Isotherms of the neuroleptics, haloperidol, chlorpromazine and thioridazine were shifted to the left in the presence of GTPgammaS, suggesting inverse agonist properties. For most ligands, the magnitude of affinity changes induced by GTPgammaS (alteration in pK(i) values) correlated well with their previously determined efficacies in [35S]GTPgammaS binding studies [Eur. J. Pharmacol. 355 (1998) 245]. In contrast, the affinity of the 'atypical' antipsychotic agent, clozapine, which is a known partial agonist at 5-HT(1A) receptors, was less influenced by GTPgammaS. When the ratio of high-/low-affinity values was plotted against efficacy, hyperbolic isotherms were obtained, consistent with a modified ternary complex model which assumes that receptors can adopt active conformations in the absence of agonist. In conclusion, modulation of [3H]-WAY100,635 binding by GTPgammaS differentiated agonist vs. inverse agonist properties of antipsychotics at 5-HT(1A) receptors. These may contribute to differing profiles of antipsychotic activity.