Bombesin and the mammalian-related peptides gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP), GRP and neuromedin B have been shown to have numerous actions in the CNS, gastrointestinal tract and on growth. However, the role of the peptides in various physiological processes has remained unclear because of the lack of potent antagonists. Recent in vitro studies have described four different classes of bombesin receptor antagonist, some of which are active in the nanomolar range and in vivo. Robert Jensen and David Coy describe recent insights into peptide structural determinants of biological activity. Evidence from structure-function studies have resulted in identification of some analogues that function as potent antagonists in all systems examined. Furthermore, various subtypes of bombesin receptors can now be differentiated by these various classes of antagonist.