The distribution of neuromedin U, a novel peptide originally isolated from porcine spinal cord, was investigated in the rat using a recently developed radioimmunoassay. High concentrations of neuromedin U-like immunoreactivity were found in the pituitary gland and gastrointestinal tract. Significant concentrations of immunoreactivity were also found in several regions of the rat brain, spinal cord and both male and female genitourinary tracts. In the small intestine, neuromedin U-like immunoreactivity was restricted to the submucosal muscular layers, suggesting localization in neurones rather than in epithelial cells. Chromatographic analysis of pituitary, spinal cord and gut revealed a single peak of immunoreactivity which did not co-elute with either synthetic porcine neuromedin U-25 nor neuromedin U-8, indicating inter-species molecular heterogeneity.