Guanine nucleotide binding proteins (G proteins) are regulatory molecules that couple membrane receptors to effector systems such as adenylate cyclase and phospholipase C. The alpha subunits of G proteins bind to guanosine 5′-diphosphate (GDP) in the unstimulated state and guanosine 5′ triphosphate (GTP) in the active state. Tiazofurin (2-beta- D-ribofuranosylthiazole-4-carboxamide), a specific inhibitor of inosine monophosphate (IMP) dehydrogenase, decreases guanylate synthesis from IMP in HL-60 promyelocytic leukemia cells and depletes intracellular guanine nucleotide pools. This study demonstrates that treatment of HL- 60 cells with tiazofurin is associated with a fourfold increase in membrane binding sites for the nonhydrolyzable analogue GDP beta S. This increase in binding sites was associated with a 3.2-fold decrease in GDP beta S binding affinity. Similar findings were obtained with GTP gamma S. These effects of tiazofurin treatment on guanine nucleotide binding were also associated with decreased adenosine diphosphate- ribosylation of specific G protein substrates by cholera and pertussis toxin. The results further demonstrate that tiazofurin treatment results in inhibition of G protein-mediated transmembrane signaling mechanisms. In this regard, stimulation of adenylate cyclase by prostaglandin E2 was inhibited by over 50% in tiazofurin-treated cells. Furthermore, tiazofurin treatment resulted in inhibition of N- formylmethionylleucylphenylalanine-induced stimulation of phospholipase C. Taken together, these results indicate that tiazofurin acts at least in part by inhibiting the ability of G proteins to function as transducers of intracellular signals.