S18616 ((S)-spiro[(1-oxa-2-amino-3-azacyclopent-2-ene)-4, 2'-(8'-chloro-1',2',3',4'-tetrahydronaphthalene)]) displayed high affinity at native rat alpha(2)-adrenoceptors (AR)s (pK(i), 9.8), native human (h)alpha(2A)-ARs (9.6), and cloned halpha(2A)- (9.5), halpha(2B)- (9.2), and halpha(2C)- (9.0) ARs. It showed 40-fold lower affinity for halpha(1A)-ARs (8.4) and >/=100-fold lower affinity for rat alpha(1)-ARs (7.1), halpha(1B)-ARs (7.7), halpha(1D)-ARs (7.6), imidazoline(1) (7.4), and imidazoline(2) (7.4) sites and >100-fold lower affinity for all other (>50) sites. At halpha(2A)-ARs, in guanosine-5'-O-(3-[(35)S]thio)triphosphate binding studies, S18616 was a potent (partial) agonist log effective concentration (pEC(50)), 9.3/maximal effect, 51%. This observation was corroborated employing a halpha(2A)-Gi1alpha fusion protein/GTPase assay (9.0/40%) in which the actions of S18616 were blocked by pertussis toxin. Employing guanosine-5'-O-(3-[(35)S]thio)triphosphate binding assays, S18616 was also a partial agonist at halpha(2C)-ARs (8.2/63%) but a full agonist (8.4/124%) at halpha(2B)-ARs. At halpha(2A)-, halpha(2B)-, and halpha(2C)-ARs, the selective alpha(2)-AR antagonist, atipamezole, abolished the actions of S18616 pK(b) values of 9.1, 9. 1, and 9.4, respectively. As determined by depletion of membrane-bound [(3)H]phosphatidyl inositols, S18616 behaved as a (less potent) agonist (7.8/79%) at halpha(1A)-ARs, an action abolished by prazosin (pK(b), 8.9). Reflecting alpha(2)-AR agonist properties, S18616 potently (>/=1 microg/kg, s.c.) and dose dependently elicited hypothermia and antinociception (nine diverse models) in rodents. These actions were dose dependently inhibited by chemically diverse alpha(2)- versus alpha(1)-AR antagonists, atipamezole, idazoxan, RX821,002, and BRL44418 (a preferential alpha(2A)-AR ligand). In contrast, the actions of S18616 were unaffected by the alpha(1)-AR antagonists, ARC239 and prazosin (which preferentially block alpha(2B/2C)- versus alpha(2A)-ARs). Although the affinity of dexmedetomidine at alpha(2)-ARs was lower than S18616; it displayed a similar receptor and functional profile. Clonidine displayed lower efficacy than S18616, was substantially less potent, and had marked affinity for imidazoline(1) sites and alpha(1)-ARs. In conclusion, S18616 is a novel, selective, and highly potent agonist at alpha(2)-ARs.