The tree shrew is a mammalian species, which is phylogenetically related to insectivores and primates. The aim of the present study was to investigate the distribution of dopamine receptor D1- and D2-like binding sites in the brain of this non-rodent, non-primate mammal. Using in vitro autoradiography and employing the radioligands [3H]-SCH23390 and [125I]-epidepride, dopamine receptors were mapped and quantified. Significant findings with regard to the D1-like binding pattern include the presence of a "patchy" binding in the striatum. In the cortex, D1-like binding sites were observed in both the superficial and the deep layers. In the hippocampal formation, D1-like binding sites were seen primarily in the CAI region and not in the dentate gyrus. These characteristics of the D1 pattern in the tree shrew brain are shared by cat and monkey and human brain, but not by rodent brain. Significant findings with regard to the D2-like binding pattern include the presence of D2-like binding in the claustrum. In addition, the striatum demonstrated "patchy" D2-like binding. These characteristics of the D2 pattern in the tree shrew brain are shared by cat and monkey and human brain, but not by rodent brain. On the other hand, the significant densities of D2-like binding sites in the glomerular layer of the tree shrew olfactory bulb is a finding that discriminates tree shrews from higher evolutionary species who lack such binding. Overall, the evidence coincides with the view that tree shrews are phylogenetically related to primates.