G-protein-coupled receptors generally share a similar structure containing seven membrane-spanning domains and extracellular site(s) for N-glycosylation. The histamine H2 receptor is a member of the family of G-protein-coupled receptors, and has three extracellular potential sites for N-glycosylation (Asn-4, Asn-162 and Asn-168). To date, however, no information has been presented regarding N-glycosylation of the H2 receptor. To investigate the presence, location and functional roles of N-glycosylation of the H2 receptor, site-directed mutagenesis was performed to eliminate the potential site(s) for N-glycosylation singly and collectively. The wild-type and mutated H2 receptors were expressed stably in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells or transiently in COS7 cells. Immunoblotting of the wild-type and mutated H2 receptors with an antiserum directed against the C-terminus of the H2 receptor showed that mutation at Asn-162, but not at Asn-168, resulted in a substantial decrease in the molecular mass. A mutation at Asn-4 led to a further decrease in the molecular mass. Tunicamycin treatment of the transfected cells yielded a sharp band with a molecular mass identical to that of the mutant devoid of all three potential sites for N-glycosylation. These findings indicate that the H2 receptor is N-glycosylated, and that N-glycosylation takes place mainly at two sites, Asn-4 and Asn-162. Neither the affinity for tiotidine nor that for histamine was affected by the mutagenesis. Immunocytochemistry and tiotidine binding showed that the mutated receptors were exclusively distributed on the cell surface in a fashion similar to that of the wild-type. In addition, the glycosylation-defective receptor was capable of activating adenylate cyclase and elevating the intracellular Ca2+ concentration in response to histamine in stable CHO cell lines. Thus N-glycosylation of the H2 receptor is not required for cell surface localization, ligand binding or functional coupling to G-protein(s).