Atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) receptors from A10 cultured vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) and rat olfactory bulbs have been solubilized and then pharmacologically and biochemically compared. The dissociation constant for 125I-ANP(99-126) was 12.7 pM for the VSMC-derived receptor and 164 pM for the olfactory receptor. Competition binding between 125I-ANP(99-126) and several unlabeled ANP analogs with the soluble olfactory receptor, demonstrated a rank order potency of ANP(99-126) = ANP(103-126) much greater than ANP(103-123). However, the rank order potency of the soluble VSMC ANP receptor was ANP(99-126) = ANP(103-126) = ANP(103-123). Therefore, the olfactory ANP receptor appears to require the complete COOH-terminal sequence of ANP as compared with the VSMC ANP receptor. When the 2 soluble receptor preparations were applied to a GTP-agarose column, a portion of the olfactory ANP receptor was retained on the column and could be eluted with 5 mM GTP, while the VSMC ANP receptor did not adsorb to the column. Since the olfactory bulb ANP receptor has been shown to contain a binding component of 116 kDa, while the VSMC ANP receptor binding component is 66 kDa, these receptors appear to be similar to the 2 receptor classes described recently in which the 120 kDa receptor that binds GTP is postulated to be coupled to guanylate cyclase, while the 60 kDa receptor does not bind GTP, is not coupled to guanylate cyclase, and may possess a hormone clearance function. Taken together, these data indicate that cyclic GMP appears to be a second messenger for ANP in the brain.