Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) was modified at the C terminus with a spacer and four amino acids to serve as a chelating moiety. The modified peptide, TP 3654, was labeled with Tc-99m and evaluated in normal volunteers, as well as in patients with a history of cancer. Renal clearance (67%) was the primary route of excretion, with approximately 20% of the radioactivity clearing through the hepatobiliary system. No adverse reaction was noted in any of the subjects and all, except one small, of the known lesions as seen by CT, MRI, Tc-99m-MIBI, or mammography were correctly identified within a few minutes of an i.v. injection of approximately 10 mCi of Tc-99m-TP 3654 (specific activity 11.3 x 10(3) Ci/m mol). The scans were in concordance in nine patients. In the remaining two, one with a visible mass in the neck from high grade spindle cell sarcoma and the other with a palpable mass in a breast from ductal epithelial hyperplasia, were localized only with Tc-99m-TP 3654, but not with Tc-99m-MIBI. Both malignancies are known to express VIP receptors. The VIP analog promises to be a nontoxic and reliable agent for imaging cancers in humans that express VIP receptors.