The first morphological evidence of the existence of adrenergic receptors (alpha 1, alpha 2 and beta) within the vascular walls of the central nervous system were presented using the in vitro receptor autoradiographic technique. In the rat pial arteries all three types of adrenergic receptors were demonstrated, whereas the human pial arteries failed to show significant autoradiographic grains of alpha 1 type of adrenergic receptors indicating a considerable inter-species difference in the distribution of adrenergic receptors. alpha 2 and beta receptors in human pial arteries were found not only in the arterial smooth muscle layers but also in the endothelial layers. This suggests a possibility that circulating sympathomimetic agents play some role in controlling the tone or permeability of vascular walls within the central nervous system. A distinct distribution of alpha 1 receptors in cortical layer IV where the vascular plexus was richest may suggest a relation of alpha 1 receptors and blood flow of brain parenchyma.