Prostaglandin F2alpha (PGF2alpha) is a product of cyclooxygenase-catalyzed metabolism of arachidonic acid. Recently, PGF2alpha analogs have been hypothesized to reduce intraocular pressure via relaxation of the ciliary muscle. To investigate the molecular basis of PGF2alpha receptor (FP) activation in the eye, we cloned the FP from a human ciliary body (hcb) cDNA library. The open reading frame of the hcb-FP cDNA was identical to the uterine FP cDNA. The hcb-FP appeared to be predominantly membrane-localized, as visualized by an FP-specific peptide antibody, and coupled to inositol phosphate formation when stably expressed in HEK 293 cells. Interestingly, the hcb-FP could also be activated by the F2 isoprostane, 12-iso-PGF2alpha, in addition to its cognate ligand, PGF2alpha. 12-iso-PGF2alpha was less potent (EC50 = 5 microM) than PGF2alpha (EC50 = 10 nM) in generating inositol phosphates via the hcb-FP in HEK 293 cells. Both ligands also stimulated mitogenesis in NIH 3T3 cells. Although 12-iso-PGF2alpha caused a dose-dependent activation of the FP, it failed to activate the recombinant human prostacyclin receptor and caused only minimal activation of the thromboxane receptor isoforms stably expressed in HEK 293 cells. Four additional F2 isoprostanes, 8-iso-PGF2alpha, IPF2alpha-I, IPF2alpha-III, and 9beta,11beta-PGF2, caused trivial, or no, activation of the FP. Consistent with these observations, only PGF2alpha and 12-iso-PGF2alpha caused rapid homologous desensitization of FP and also exhibited cross-desensitization, with PGF2alpha resulting in a maximum of approximately 60% desensitization. The human FP may thus be activated specifically, by the free radical-catalyzed F2 isoprostane, 12-iso-PGF2alpha, in addition to the cyclooxygenase product, PGF2alpha. Incidental receptor activation by isoprostanes may complement the actions of PGF2alpha in clinical syndromes where oxidant stress and augmented prostaglandin biosynthesis coincide.