A series of N-naphthylethyl amide derivatives were synthesized and evaluated as melatonin receptor ligands. The affinity of each compound for the melatonin receptor was determined by binding studies using [2-125I]iodomelatonin on ovine pars tuberalis membrane homogenates. Structure-activity relationships led to the conclusion that naphthalene is a bioisostere of the indole moiety of melatonin. Moreover it appears that the affinity is strongly affected by the size of the substituent of the nitrogen of the amidic function. Many of these ligands give biphasic dose-response curves which suggests that there may be two melatonin receptor subtypes within the ovine pars tuberalis cells. The replacement of naphthalene by benzofuran or benzothiophene did not strongly alter the affinity for the melatonin receptor. In contrast, the benzimidazole analogue was a poor ligand. Compound 7, the naphthalenic analogue of melatonin, a selective ligand of the melatonin receptor and an agonist derivative, has been selected for clinical development.