Currently, a lack of sufficient tools has limited the understanding of the relationship between neuropsychiatric disorders and the nociceptin/orphanin FQ (N/OFQ) peptide (NOP) receptor. Herein, we describe the discovery and development of an antagonist NOP receptor occupancy (RO) tracer and a novel positron emission tomography (PET) radioligand suitable to probe the NOP receptor in human clinical studies. A thorough structure-activity relationship (SAR) around the high-affinity 3-(2'-fluoro-4',5'-dihydrospiro[piperidine-4,7'-thieno[2,3-c]pyran]-1-yl)-2-(2-halobenzyl)-N-alkylpropanamide scaffold identified a series of subnanomolar, highly selective NOP antagonists. Subsequently, these unlabeled NOP ligands were evaluated in vivo by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) in rat to determine brain uptake, kinetics and specific binding. (S)-27 was identified as a suitable unlabeled preclinical RO tracer to accurately quantify NOP receptor engagement in rat brain. Three compounds were selected for evaluation in nonhuman primates as PET tracers: (-)-26, (-)-30, and (-)-33. Carbon-11 labeling of (+)-31 yielded [(11)C]-(S)-30, which exhibited minimal generation of central nervous system (CNS) penetrant radiometabolites, improved brain uptake, and was an excellent PET radioligand in both rat and monkey. Currently [(11)C]-(S)-30 is being evaluated as a PET radiotracer for the NOP receptor in human subjects.