Somatostatin receptors (SS-R) have been identified in membrane homogenates or tissue sections from several hundred tumors. SS-R were found in most neuroendocrine tumors, i.e. GH and TSH producing pituitary tumors, endocrine gastroenteropancreatic (GEP) tumors, paragangliomas, pheochromocytomas, medullary thyroid carcinomas (MTC) and small cell lung carcinomas. SS-R were also expressed in a majority of malignant lymphomas, in several brain tumors (all meningiomas, most astrocytomas) and in breast tumors. The majority of tumors expressing SS-R are rather differentiated (i.e. astrocytomas vs glioblastomas), but exceptions exist (high grade malignant lymphomas). An inverse relationship exists between SS-R and receptors for epidermal growth factor (EGF-R) incidence in lung tumors, glial tumors and most breast tumors, whereas meningiomas express simultaneously both receptors. A minority of tumors (ovarian tumors, MTC, insulinomas) express a subtype of SS-R, characterized by low affinity for the octapeptide SS analog octreotide. The function mediated by SS-R in human tumors may differ according to the tumor type. SS-R in pituitary and GEP tumor mediate hormone secretion inhibition with, in addition, possibly some antiproliferative effects. In meningiomas, however, activation of SS-R inhibits forskolin-stimulated adenylate cyclase activity, and weakly stimulates proliferation. Whereas SS-R seem to mediate antiproliferative effects in animal models and cell lines of lymphomas, breast and lung tumors, such an effect has not yet been convincingly documented in human primary tumors. The clinical implications of the presence of SS-R in tumors are manyfold: (1) as a predictive marker for efficient therapy with octreotide in pituitary and GEP tumors; (2) as a diagnostic marker: for pathobiochemical classification of tumors, using in vitro detection methods; for clinical evaluation using in vivo scanning techniques; (3) as a prognostic marker; and (4) as a potential radiotherapeutic target.