Twenty-four edible plants were investigated for the presence of melatonin, heretofore considered to be a molecule found only in the animal kingdom. The amount of melatonin in different plants varied greatly with highest melatonin being present in plants of the rice family. Melatonin was identified by radioimmunoassay and verified by high performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection. Feeding a diet containing plant products rich in melatonin to chicks increased radioimmunoassayable levels of melatonin in their blood. Likewise, melatonin extracted from plants inhibited binding of [125I]iodomelatonin to rabbit brain. Thus, melatonin ingested in foodstuffs enters the blood and is capable of binding to melatonin binding sites in the brain of mammals.