G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) belong to the most successful targets in drug discovery. However, the development of assays with an appropriately labeled high affinity reporter compound is laborious. In the present study an MS-based binding assay is described using the rat histamine receptor 2 (rH2) as a model GPCR system. Instead of using a purified receptor it is demonstrated that it is possible to use an unpurified receptor to extract active compounds from a solution or small mixture of compounds. By using SEC it is possible to separate the bound ligand from the unbound ligand. The major advantage of this approach is that there is no labeling of ligands required (direct monitoring based on the appropriate m/z values). © 2006 Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn Verlag/GWV Fachverlage GmbH.