The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of N-(2-(4-2-methoxphenyl)-1-piperazinyl)ethyl)-N-(2-pyridnyl) cyclohexane carboxamide (WAY 100635) on 5-HT1A receptor-mediated responses in the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) and the CA1 hippocampal region. In DRN slices superfused with WAY 100635 (10 nM), the majority of putative 5-HT neurons increased their firing rate (13 +/- 2% of baseline rate). In addition, WAY 100635 completely prevented the decrease in firing rate produced by 5-HT (3-15 microM), 8-OH-DPAT (10 nM), 5-carboxamidotryptamine (20 nM) and lesopitron (100 nM). The antagonism exerted by WAY 100635 (IC50 = 0.95 +/- 0.12 nM against 15 microM 5-HT) was fully surmounted by increasing the concentration of 5-HT to 300 microM. In hippocampal slices, WAY 100635 (0.5-10 nM) did not alter the resting membrane potential or the membrane input resistance of intracellularly recorded CA1 pyramidal cells. However, WAY 100635 completely prevented (IC50 = 0.9-1.7 nM) the hyperpolarization and the decrease in membrane input resistance produced by 5-HT (15-30 microM) and by 5-carboxamidotryptamine (50-300 nM). In contrast, WAY 100635 affected neither the block of action potential frequency adaptation and slow afterhyperpolarization produced by 5-HT (15 microM) nor the hyperpolarization and decrease in membrane input resistance evoked by bath application of GABA(B) receptor agonist baclofen (10 microM). The cumulative concentration-hyperpolarization curve for 5-carboxamidotryptamine (3 nM-10 microM) was shifted to the right by WAY 100635 (apparent Kb = 0.23 +/- 0.07 nM), and the latter drug also reduced the maximal response to the agonist. These data show the WAY 100635 is a potent antagonist at 5-HT1A receptors, both in the DRN and in the CA1 region of the hippocampus. The antagonism is apparently competitive in the DRN and partly noncompetitive in the hippocampus. Kinetic characteristics of the antagonist-receptor interactions might account for these regional differences.