BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Racemic (R,S) AM1241 is a cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB(2))-selective aminoalkylindole with antinociceptive efficacy in animal pain models. The purpose of our studies was to provide a characterization of R,S-AM1241 and its resolved enantiomers in vitro and in vivo. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: Competition binding assays were performed using membranes from cell lines expressing recombinant human, rat, and mouse CB(2) receptors. Inhibition of cAMP was assayed using intact CB(2)-expressing cells. A mouse model of visceral pain (para-phenylquinone, PPQ) and a rat model of acute inflammatory pain (carrageenan) were employed to characterize the compounds in vivo. KEY RESULTS: In cAMP inhibition assays, R,S-AM1241 was found to be an agonist at human CB(2), but an inverse agonist at rat and mouse CB(2) receptors. R-AM1241 bound with more than 40-fold higher affinity than S-AM1241, to all three CB(2) receptors and displayed a functional profile similar to that of the racemate. In contrast, S-AM1241 was an agonist at all three CB(2) receptors. In pain models, S-AM1241 was more efficacious than either R-AM1241 or the racemate. Antagonist blockade demonstrated that the in vivo effects of S-AM1241 were mediated by CB(2) receptors. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: These findings constitute the first in vitro functional assessment of R,S-AM1241 at rodent CB(2) receptors and the first characterization of the AM1241 enantiomers in recombinant cell systems and in vivo. The greater antinociceptive efficacy of S-AM1241, the functional CB(2) agonist enantiomer of AM1241, is consistent with previous observations that CB(2) agonists are effective in relief of pain.