The interaction of SCH 23390 with dopamine (DA) and serotonin (5-HT) systems has been examined in vivo and in vitro. Like selective 5-HT2 blockers, SCH 23390 inhibited in vivo [3H]spiperone binding in the rat frontal cortex (ID50: 1.5 mg/kg) without interacting at D2 sites. SCH 23390 was equipotent to cinanserin and methysergide. In vitro, SCH 23390 inhibited [3H]ketanserin binding to 5-HT2 sites (IC50 = 30 nM). Biochemical parameters linked to DA and 5-HT were not changed excepted in striatum where SCH 23390 increased HVA and DOPAC. In the L-5-HTP syndrome model, SCH 23390 clearly showed antagonism of 5-HT2 receptors. SCH 23390 had weak affinity for 5-HT1B (IC50 = 0.5 microM), 5-HT1A (IC50 = 2.6 microM) and alpha 1-adrenergic receptors (IC50 = 4.4 microM).