The 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor of type 3 was investigated by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS). Binding constants of fluorescently labeled ligands, the stoichiometry, and the mass of the receptor are readily accessible by this technique, while the duration of measurement is on the order of seconds to minutes. The receptor antagonist 1,2,3,9-tetrahydro-3-[(5-methyl-1H-imidazol-4-yl)methyl]-9-(3-aminopropyl)-4H-carbazol-4-one (GR-H) was labeled with the fluorophores rhodamine 6G, fluorescein, N-[7-nitrobenz-2-oxa-1,3-diazol-4-yl], and the cyanine dye Cy5. These labels cover a large part of the visible electromagnetic spectrum. It is shown that the photophysical and chemical properties have a direct influence on the measurement quality (duration of measurement, signal-to-noise ratio) and the ligand-receptor interactions (dissociation constants), respectively. This makes it necessary to choose a suitable label or a combination of labels for receptor studies. The affinities of the fluorescently labeled ligands determined by FCS were virtually identical to the values obtained by radioligand binding experiments. Moreover, the dissociation constant of a nonfluorescent receptor ligand was determined successfully by an FCS competition assay. The experimental results showed that only one antagonist binds to the receptor, in agreement with measurements previously published [Tairi et al. (1998) Biochemistry 37, 15850-15864].