Surrogate readouts of G-protein-coupled receptor signaling pathways using highly engineered systems are often employed in the drug discovery process. However, accumulating data have demonstrated the importance of selecting relevant biological activity rather than technically facile assays to support high-throughout screening and subsequent structure-activity relationship studies. Here we report a case study using sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 (S1P(1)) as the model system to compare compound activity in six different in vitro assays with their ability to predict in vivo efficacy. S1P(1) has long been validated as a therapeutic target for autoimmune diseases. In this article, in vivo and in vitro studies on 19 S1P1 agonists are reported. In vitro activities of these S1P(1) agonists, together with S1P and FTY720p, on Ca(2+) mobilization, adenylyl cyclase inhibition, extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK) phosphorylation, β-arrestin recruitment, and receptor internalization, were determined. The in vitro potency of these compounds was correlated with their ability to induce peripheral lymphocyte reduction. The results revealed that inhibition of adenylyl cyclase and induction of β-arrestin recruitment and receptor internalization are good indicators to predict in vivo efficacy, whereas induction of Ca(2+) mobilization through G(qi/5) coupling and ERK phosphorylation is irrelevant. This study demonstrated the importance of identifying an appropriate in vitro assay to predict in vivo activity based on the biological relevance in the drug discovery setting.