Agonist-induced endocytosis of somatostatin receptors determines subsequent cellular responsiveness to peptide agonist and influences somatostatin receptor scintigraphy, a technique to image various tumours. We examined the internalization of sst3HSV, an epitope-tagged type 3 somatostatin receptor, in transfected rat neuroendocrine insulinoma cells. Stimulation of these cells with somatostatin induced trafficking of coexpressed enhanced green fluorescence protein/beta-arrestin1 fusion protein and sst3HSV to colocalize in the same endocytic vesicles. Coexpression of a dominant negative mutant of the arrestin fusion protein with the receptor blocked the internalization of sst3HSV. Stimulation with somatostatin also induced the transient translocation of alpha-adaptin, a component of the adaptor protein complex 2, to the plasma membrane. alpha-adaptin and clathrin colocalized with the receptor. By electron microscopy, we observed internalized sst3 in clathrin coated pits, endosomes and at the limiting membrane of multivesicular bodies, a location typical for receptors being recycled. Concordantly, we observed sst3HSV colocalized with Rab11 in a perinuclear compartment which is likely to correspond to the pericentriolar recycling endosome. Thus, agonist-induced endocytosis of sst3 depends on its interaction with beta-arrestin, involves the adaptor protein complex 2 and proceeds via clathrin coated vesicles to the recycling compartment.