Nociceptin/orphanin FQ (N/OFQ) is a recently identified neuropeptide that has been implicated in a multitude of CNS functions. These include nociception, feeding, cognition, locomotion, stress and neuroendocrine control. The endogenous receptor for this ligand is the nociceptin/orphanin FQ peptide (NOP) receptor. The distribution of NOP in rodent has been widely reported by the use of in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry and autoradiographic radioligand binding but less is known of its localization in higher species. We have therefore sought to optimize and determine the distribution of (125)I[Tyr(14)]N/OFQ binding sites in macaque primate brain and spinal cord. Highest levels of binding were observed in neocortical areas, hippocampus, amygdala, caudate nucleus and putamen, medial thalamic nuclei and superficial laminae of the superior colliculus. These novel data present for the first time, the distribution of N/OFQ receptors in non-human primate CNS and, by comparison with localization in the rat, reveal that species differences may exist in the distribution of this neuropeptide receptor. These data have important implications regarding the roles of N/OFQ across species and may have ramifications in the interpretation of preclinical pharmacological studies.