G-protein-coupled receptors constitute one of the largest protein superfamilies in mammals. Since the cloning of the encoding genes, these important drug targets have been subjected to thorough biochemical and pharmacological studies. It has become clear that G-protein-coupled receptors not only transmit signals after stimulation by agonists but can also spontaneously couple to signal-transduction pathways. Recent findings show that constitutively active G-protein-coupled receptors can also be regulated in an agonist-independent manner, which has important implications for the interpretation of the actions of (inverse) agonists and the results of site-directed-mutagenesis studies. Copyright (C) 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd.