Primary human neoplasms were examined for the presence of substance-P receptors by receptor autoradiography with 125I-labelled Bolton-Hunter substance P. Substance-P receptors were localized and characterized in the neoplastic cells of 9/12 astrocytomas, 10/10 glioblastomas, 10/12 medullary thyroid carcinomas, 8/16 breast carcinomas and 4/5 ganglioneuroblastomas. Conversely, substance-P receptors were not or only rarely identified on non-small-cell carcinomas of the lung (1/16), neuroblastomas (0/8), adenocarcinomas of the colon (1/21) or the pancreas (1/9), or on malignant lymphomas (3/18). However, in the great majority of the investigated tumours, substance-P receptors were found on intra- and peritumoral blood vessels. All substance-P receptors detected had the pharmacological characteristics of the neurokinin-I receptor sub-type. In addition, the expression of somatostatin receptors was examined in all the neoplastic tissues mentioned above. Both substance-P and somatostatin receptors were present in astrocytomas and in ganglioneuroblastomas, whereas little or no receptor was found in pancreatic and non-small-cell lung carcinomas. The extent of somatostatin-receptor expression was inversely correlated to that of the substance-P receptors in glioblastomas, neuroblastomas and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. The tumoral and vascular localization of substance-P receptors in tumours may have clinical implications. The use of radiolabelled substance P for in vivo scintigraphy may supplement the current set of diagnostic tools. Substance-P antagonists might be used in the treatment of tumours, as their binding to vascular receptors may decrease tumoral blood supply and drainage.