We examined the role of G proteins in modulating the response of living cells to receptor activation. The response of an effector, phospholipase C-β to M3 muscarinic receptor activation was measured using sensors that detect the generation of inositol triphosphate or diacylglycerol. The recently discovered translocation of Gβγ from plasma membrane to endomembranes on receptor activation attenuated this response. A FRET based G protein sensor suggested that in contrast to translocating Gβγ, non-translocating Gβγ subunits do not dissociate from the αq subunit on receptor activation leading to prolonged retention of the heterotrimer state and an accentuated response. M3 receptors with tethered αq induced differential responses to receptor activation in cells with or without an endogenous translocation capable γ subunit. G protein heterotrimer dissociation and βγ translocation are thus unanticipated modulators of the intensity of a cell's response to an extracellular signal.