Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) immunoreactivity is widely distributed in the central nervous system and gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and specific receptors have been described on many GI tissues. In the present study, we compared CGRP receptors on gastric smooth muscle cells with those on pancreatic acini from guinea pig with the use of chemical cross-linking techniques combined with various enzymatic digestions. 125I-labeled rat CGRP-I demonstrated temperature-dependent saturable binding to both acinar and gastric smooth muscle cell membranes. After binding, membranes were incubated with 1 mM disuccinimidyl suberate (DSS), solubilized with sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), and subjected to SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Cross-linked radioactivity was analyzed by autoradiography. A single broad radioactive band [molecular weight (M(r)) 57,000] was seen on cell membranes from both tissues and after cross-linking to intact cells. These bands were not altered by addition of dithiothreitol. This radioactive band was not detected without DSS present or with addition of 10 microM rCGRP-I. rCGRP-I inhibited cross-linking with half-maximal inhibition of 32 nM with membranes from both tissues, and there was a close correlation between its ability to inhibit binding and to inhibit cross-linking. Cross-linking was not inhibited by non-CGRP related peptides. With membranes from both tissues, N-glycanase digestion increased the mobility of the original band. Neuraminidase digestion only slightly increased the mobility of the original band; however, the subsequent addition of O-glycanase showed no additional effect on both membranes. Endoglycosidase H digestion had no effect in either tissue. The present results demonstrate that on both tissues the cell membrane receptor for CGRP is an N-linked sialoglycoprotein. The apparent M(r) of this sialoglycoprotein is 57,000, and this polypeptide does not contain disulfide-linked subunits or O-linked carbohydrates.