GABA(A) receptors are pentameric ligand-gated ion channels that are major mediators of fast inhibitory neurotransmission. Clinically relevant GABA(A) receptor subtypes are assembled from alpha5(1-3, 5), beta1-3 and the gamma2 subunit. They exhibit a stoichiometry of two alpha, two beta and one gamma subunit, with two GABA binding sites located at the alpha/beta and one benzodiazepine binding site located at the alpha/gamma subunit interface. Introduction of the H105R point mutation into the alpha5 subunit, to render alpha5 subunit-containing receptors insensitive to the clinically important benzodiazepine site agonist diazepam, unexpectedly resulted in a reduced level of alpha5 subunit protein in alpha5(H105R) mice. In this study, we show that the alpha5(H105R) mutation did not affect cell surface expression and targeting of the receptors or their assembly into macromolecular receptor complexes but resulted in a severe reduction of alpha5-selective ligand binding. Immunoprecipitation studies suggest that the diminished alpha5-selective binding is presumably due to a repositioning of the alpha5(H105R) subunit in GABA(A) receptor complexes containing two different alpha subunits. These findings imply an important role of histidine 105 in determining the position of the alpha5 subunit within the receptor complex by determining the affinity for assembly with the gamma2 subunit.