Although members of the multiple vertebrate/mammalian dopamine D1 receptor gene family can be selectively classified on the basis of their molecular/phylogenetic, structural, and tissue distribution profiles, no subtype-specific discriminating agents have yet been identified that can functionally differentiate these receptors. To define distinct pharmacological/functional attributes of multiple D1-like receptors, we analyzed the ligand binding profiles, affinity, and functional activity of 12 novel NNC compounds at mammalian/vertebrate D1/D1A and D5/D1B, as well as vertebrate D1C/D1D, dopamine receptors transiently expressed in COS-7 cells. Of all the compounds tested, only NNC 01-0012 displayed preferential selectivity for vertebrate D1C receptors, inhibiting [3H]SCH-23390 binding with an estimated affinity (∼0.6 nM) 20-fold higher than either mammalian/vertebrate D1/D1A or D5/D1B receptors or the D1D receptor. Functionally, NNC 01-0012 is a potent antagonist at D1C receptors, inhibiting to basal levels dopamine(10 μM)-stimulated adenylyl cyclase activity. In contrast, NNC 01-0012(10 μM) exhibits weak antagonist activity at D1A receptors, inhibiting only 60% of maximal cyclic AMP production by dopamine, while acting as a partial agonist at vertebrate D1B and D1D receptors, stimulating adenylyl cyclase activity by ∼33% relative to the full agonist dopamine (10 μM), an effect that was blocked by the selective D1 receptor antagonist NNC 22-0010. These data clearly suggest that the benzazepine NNC 01-0012, despite lacking the N-methyl residue in the R3 position, is a selective and potent D1C receptor antagonist. Moreover, the differential signal transduction properties exhibited by NNC 01-0012 at these receptor subtypes provide further evidence, at least in vertebrates, for the classification of the D1C receptor as a distinct D1 receptor subtype.