Large-conductance, calcium- and voltage-activated potassium (BK(Ca)) channels hyperpolarize coronary artery smooth muscle cells, causing vasorelaxation. Dopamine activates BK(Ca) channels by stimulating D(1)-like receptor-mediated increases in cAMP in porcine coronary artery myocytes. There are two D(1)-like receptors (R), D(1)R and D(5)R. We hypothesize that the specific D(1)-like receptor involved in BK(Ca) channel activation in human coronary artery smooth muscle cells (HCASMCs) is the D(5)R and that activation occurs via cAMP cross-activation of cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG), rather than cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA). The effects of D(1)-like receptor agonists and antagonists on BK(Ca) channel opening in HCASMCs were examined in the presence and absence of PKG/PKA inhibition by cell-attached patch clamp. In the absence of commercially available ligands specific for D(1)R or D(5)R, D(1)R or D(5)R protein was down-regulated by transfecting HCASMCs with human D(1)R or D(5)R antisense oligonucleotides, respectively: cells transfected with scrambled oligonucleotides and nontransfected HCASMCs served as controls. The predominant ion channel conducting outward currents in nontransfected HCASMCs was identified as the large-conductance, calcium- and voltage-activated potassium (BK(Ca)) channel, which was activated by D(1)-like receptor agonists despite PKA inhibition with (9R,10S,12S)-2,3,9,10,11,12-hexahydro-10-hydroxy-9-methyl-1-oxo-9,12-epoxy-1H-diindolo[1,2,3-fg:3',2',1'-kl]pyrrolo[3,4-i][1,6]benzodiazocine-10-carboxylic acid (KT 5720) (300 nM), but was abolished by inhibiting PKG with 9-methoxy-9-methoxycarbonyl-8-methyl-2,3,9,10-tetrahydro-8,11-epoxy-1H,8H,11H-2,7b-11a-triazadibenzo(a,g) cycloocta(cde)-trinden-1-one (KT 5823) (300 nM). D(1)-like receptor agonists activated BK(Ca) channels in all transfected cells except those transfected with D(5)R antisense oligonucleotides. Thus, the dopamine (D(1)-like) receptor mediates activation of BK(Ca) channels in HCASMCs by D(5)R, not D(1)R, and via PKG, not PKA. This is the first report of differential D(1)-like receptor regulation of vascular smooth muscle function in human cells.