The distribution and characteristics of beta-adrenoceptors in postmortem human brain was studied using quantitative autoradiographic techniques. 125I-Cyanopindolol was used as a ligand. High densities of beta-adrenoceptors were found in the caudate, putamen, different cortical areas and layers and the hippocampal formation. Low densities were present in other areas such as the thalamus, hypothalamus, midbrain and cerebellar cortex. Specific beta 1 and beta 2 antagonists were used to visualize and quantify separately the two subtypes of beta-adrenoceptors. Computer analysis of the competition curves obtained revealed that the putamen was enriched in beta 1 sites while the cerebellum contained predominantly beta 2 adrenoceptors. The regional distribution of beta-adrenoceptor subtypes was found to be similar to that seen in the rat brain.