We investigated the existence and the function of 5-hydroxytryptamine(4) (5-HT4) receptors and the effect of TKS159, a novel agonist of 5-HT4 receptor, on guinea pig stomach. The mechanical activity and the release of [3H]ACh were measured using preparations of muscle layers attached to intramural plexus from guinea pig stomach. 5-HT in the presence of 1 microM methysergide, 1 microM ketanserin and 1 microM granisetron, 5-methoxytryptamine or TKS159 enhanced the electrical transmural stimulation-evoked contraction and [3H]ACh release in strips of the stomach in a concentration-dependent manner. This enhancement by 5-HT, 5-methoxytryptamine or TKS159 was antagonized by SDZ 205-557 or atropine. Cisapride, metoclopramide and TKS159 enhanced the electrical transmural stimulation-evoked contraction and release of [3H]ACh in a concentration-dependent manner. We conclude that the pharmacological characteristics of the receptor, which mediates contraction of the guinea pig stomach by the activation of cholinergic nerves, are consistent with its being of the putative 5-HT4 receptor type and that TKS159 is an agonist at 5-HT4 receptors.