Levels of native and cryptic or peptidase-derivable (after being digested with trypsin and carboxypeptidase) Met-enkephalin were measured by a specific radioimmunoassay method in plasma, anterior and neurointermediate lobes of pituitary and various peripheral tissues of streptozotocin (STZ) diabetic rats. The results show that the highest concentration of native and cryptic Met-enkephalin were found in the neurointermediate lobe of pituitary. Streptozotocine-induced diabetes alters the concentration of either or both forms of Met-enkephalin in plasma, the anterior and neurointermediate lobes of the pituitary, heart, lung, spleen, liver, seminal vesicle, vas deferens, kidney, bladder detrusor, and duodenum. One of the most pronounced effects of diabetes observed in this study is seen in the seminal vesicles where native Met-enkephalin was depleted to less than 10% of the control value. The uneven distribution of Met-enkephalin in peripheral tissues may suggest that these tissues process and/or metabolize Met-enkephalin to different degrees. Our data also suggest that STZ-induced diabetes alters the enkephalinergic activity in some of these tissues. It is suggested that some of the peripheral pathophysiological symptoms associated with diabetes may be attributed, in part, to altered activity of enkephalinergic systems.