Immunocytochemical studies of the distribution of glucagon, gastrin, insulin, and somatostatin in normal canine pancreatic islets and 20 canine islet cell tumors were done using the peroxidase-anti-peroxidase (PAP) technique. In the normal adult canine pancreas, islets typically consisted of clusters of 20-30 cells, but smaller foci and even individual cells were identified. Alpha cells (glucagon) were often peripherally located, beta cells (insulin) were centrally located and most numerous, and delta cells (somatostatin) were the least numerous and randomly located. Both juvenile and adult canine pancreases did not stain for gastrin. Of the 20 tumors examined, 18 had positive immunoreactivity for insulin, nine for glucagon, 14 for somatostatin, and one for gastrin. Two tumors were uninterpretable due to autolysis. Three tumors were pure insulinomas, but no pure somatostatinomas, glucagonomas, or gastrinomas were identified. Most tumors and metastases had mixed positive immunoreactivity; one neoplastic cell type predominated with lesser numbers of other cell types. Metastatic sites (liver and lymph node) stained for insulin and somatostatin, only. Foci of non-neoplastic islet cell tissue (nesidioblastosis), often located at the pancreatic-mesenteric junction, stained strongly positive for insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin but not for gastrin. The tumor staining pattern did not consistently correlate with tumor function, as determined by blood glucose and serum insulin assays. The PAP technique works well on paraffin-embedded, formalin-fixed tissue using rabbit or guinea pig antisera as the primary antibody. Staining occurred on sections of paraffin blocks stored for up to 7 years.