Somatostatin receptors (SS-R) were measured with in vitro receptor autoradiography using the SS analog 125I-[Tyr3]-SMS 201-995 as radioligand in 342 breast-tumor samples. In a group of 158 "small" tumor samples (mean section surface: 14 mm2 +/- 0.4; mean +/- SEM), 34 tumors (21%) were SS-R positive. In a group of 72 "large" tumor samples (mean size: 180 mm2 +/- 8; mean +/- SEM), 33 tumors (46%) were SS-R positive. In this second group, more than half of the tumors had a non-homogeneous distribution of SS-R, i.e., tumor regions within SS-R positive tumors were SS-R negative. In a group of 48 additional patients, we could show that primaries and their metastases, or double primaries from right and left breasts, or 2 primaries resected consecutively, could both occasionally be SS-R positive. Finally, in 71 SS-R-positive primary tumors, 18 tumor samples were found to have simultaneously Epidermal Growth Factor receptors (EGF-R); in 12 of these 18 cases, the 2 receptor types were not topographically overlapping. Whereas SS-R were located on tumor tissue, EGF-R were often seen on adjacent normal lobules and ducts. These results show that a subgroup of breast tumors contain SS-R, in several cases non-homogeneously distributed. Their location does not coincide with that of EGF-R. Metastasis of SS-R-positive primaries may be SS-R-positive, as are sometimes second primaries. For evaluation of SS-R incidence and distribution, autoradiography is of advantage, specially if it is performed on large tumor samples, since it allows precise identification of the tissue elements containing these receptors.