The cholecystokinin (CCK) and gastrin families of peptides act as hormones and neuropeptides on central and peripheral CCK receptors to mediate secretion and motility in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract in the physiological response to a normal meal. CCK and its receptors are also widely distributed in the central nervous system (CNS) and contribute to the regulation of satiety, anxiety, analgesia, and dopamine-mediated behavior. Although the wide distribution, myriad number of functions, and reported pharmacological heterogeneity of CCK receptors would suggest a large number of receptor subtypes, the application of modern molecular biological techniques has identified two CCK receptors, CCK-A receptor (CCK-AR) and CCK-B receptor (CCK-BR), that mediate the actions of CCK and gastrin; gastrin receptors have been found to be identical to CCK-BR. CCK-AR, found predominantly in the GI system and select areas of the CNS, have high affinity for CCK and the nonpeptide antagonist L-364,718, whereas CCK-BR, found predominantly in the CNS and select areas of the GI system, have high affinity for CCK and gastrin and the nonpeptide antagonist L-365,260. Both CCK-AR and CCK-BR are highly conserved between species, although there is some tissue-specific variation in expression. Recombinant receptor expression faithfully reproduces the native receptor pharmacology and signal transduction pathways, allowing direct comparisons of receptor function between species as well as serving as a convenient source of receptor. Our present knowledge of the chromosomal localization, receptor gene structure, and primary sequence will allow further studies in disease association, receptor regulation, and structure-function analysis.