Recently it has been established that both a gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) receptor and a neuromedin B (NMB) receptor mediate the actions of bombesin-related peptides in mammals. Five different classes of peptides that function as GRP receptor antagonists have been identified; however, it is unknown whether similar strategies will yield antagonists for the closely related NMB receptor. In the present study we have used either native cells possessing only one bombesin (Bn) receptor subtype or cells stably transfected with one subtype to determine whether using the strategies that were used successfully for GRP receptors would allow NMB receptor antagonists to be identified. [DPhe12]Bn analogs; des Met14 amides, esters and alkylamides; psi 13-14 Bn pseudopeptides; and D-amino acid-substituted analogs of substance P (SP) or SP(4-11) were all synthesized and each functioned as a GRP receptor antagonist. All of these antagonists had low affinity for the NMB receptor. Application of similar strategies to NMB by formation of [DPhe8]NMB, [psi 9-10]NMB pseudopeptides, des-Met10 NMB amides, alkylamide or esters did not result in any potent NMB receptor antagonists. D-Amino acid SP and SP(4-11) analogs were weakly selective NMB receptor antagonists. No COOH-terminal fragments of NMB or GRP functioned as a GRP or NMB receptor antagonist. These results demonstrate that none of the known strategies used to prepare peptide GRP receptor antagonists are successful at the NMB receptor, suggesting that a different strategy will be needed for this peptide, such as the formation of somatostatin octapeptide or D-amino acid-substituted substance P analogs. These results suggest that even though there is a close homology between GRP and NMB and their receptors, their structure-function relations are markedly different. These results indicate that the development of receptor subtype-specific peptide agonists or peptide antagonists for newly discovered receptor subtypes of gastrointestinal hormones/neurotransmitters may be difficult because the strategies developed for one well-studied subtype may not apply to the other even though it is structurally closely related.