The neurokinin-1 receptor (NK1R) has two naturally occurring forms that differ in the length of the carboxyl terminus: a full-length receptor consisting of 407 aa and a truncated receptor consisting of 311 aa. We examined whether there are differential signaling properties attributable to the carboxyl terminus of this receptor by using stably transfected human embryonic kidney (HEK293) cell lines that express either full-length or truncated NK1R. Substance P (SP) specifically triggered intracellular calcium increase in HEK293 cells expressing full-length NK1R but had no effect in the cells expressing the truncated NK1R. In addition, in cells expressing full-length NK1R, SP activated NF-kappaB and IL-8 mRNA expression, but in cells expressing the truncated NK1R, SP did not activate NF-kappaB, and it decreased IL-8 mRNA expression. In cells expressing full-length NK1R, SP stimulated phosphorylation of PKCdelta but inhibited phosphorylation of PKCdelta in cells expressing truncated NK1R. There are also differences in the timing of SP-induced ERK activation in cells expressing the two different forms of the receptor. Full-length NK1R activation of ERK was rapid (peak within 1-2 min), whereas truncated NK1R-mediated activation was slower (peak at 20-30 min). Thus, the carboxyl terminus of NK1R is the structural basis for differences in the functional properties of the full-length and truncated NK1R. These differences may provide important information toward the design of new NK1R receptor antagonists.