We have investigated the possible existence of the H3 histamine receptor in human skin with the highly selective ligands R α methylhistamine (RAMHA) (H3 agonist) and thioperamide (H3 antagonist). We compared the intradermal effects of RAMHA with histamine, and studied their potential modulation by the H1 antagonist terfenadine, and H2 antagonist cimetidine. The effects of RAMHA and thioperamide on codeine phosphate-, substance P- and histamine-induced weal and flare responses were also studied. RAMHA produced dose-related weal and flare responses that were approximately 10- and fivefold less, respectively, than responses to histamine. Flare responses to RAMHA were significantly inhibited by oral terfenadine (P<0.05). Weal and flare responses to histamine after oral cimetidine showed much intersubject variation, and cimetidine did not significantly alter either RAMHA- or histamine-induced weal and flare responses. Codeine phosphate-, substance P- and histamine-induced responses were not significantly affected by concurrent administration of RAMHA. Thioperamide was not found to influence codeine phosphate-, substance P-, RAMHA- or histamine-induced effects. RAMHA induces vascular (weal and flare) responses in human skin, and these responses are partially inhibited by terfenadine. There is a trend for RAMHA to have an additive effect to the weal induced by substance P and histamine, although our results largely do not reach statistical significance. Thioperamide does not affect the vascular responses to RAMHA, codeine phosphate, histamine or substance P. We cannot conclude that the effects of RAMHA are induced by H3 receptors on cutaneous endothelial or mast cells.