The goal of these studies was to determine the tissue and cell types possessing specific binding sites for bombesin/gastrin-releasing peptide in the canine gastrointestinal tract. Monoiodinated, biologically active (Tyr-4)-bombesin 14 (100 pM) was applied to sections of canine gut and localized using quantitative autoradiography. The highest density of bombesin/gastrin-releasing peptide specific binding sites occurred over endocrine cells in the antral mucosa. Specific binding sites were also found on the circular muscle layer of the gastric fundus, gastric antrum, and ileum, on longitudinal muscle of the gastric fundus and antrum, and on neuronal elements in the myenteric plexus in the gastric fundus, antrum, and small intestine. No evidence for specific binding of 125I-(Tyr-4)-bombesin 14 was found in sections of canine esophagus, gastric cardia, gallbladder, pancreas, or colon. These results suggest sites of direct action of bombesin and endogenous gastrin-releasing peptide for gastrin release and gastrointestinal motility.