Various tumours, classically specified as either neuroendocrine or non-neuroendocrine, contain high numbers of somatostatin receptors, which enable in vivo localization of the primary tumour and its metastases by scintigraphy with the radiolabelled somatostatin analogue octreotide. In addition granulomas and autoimmune processes can be visualized because of local accumulation of somatostatin receptor-positive activated mononuclear leucocytes. In many instances a positive scintigram predicts a favourable response to treatment with octreotide. It is tempting to speculate that octreotide labelled with an appropriate radionuclide might be used in cancer therapy. The successful application of radiolabelled octreotide in scintigraphy indicates the possible usefulness of other radiolabelled peptides, either native peptides or derivatives of these, in, for example, nuclear oncology. The small size of these peptides, e.g. bombesin and substance P, is of the utmost importance for a relatively fast blood clearance, thus leading to low background radioactivity. In this way peptides are powerful alternatives to (fragments of) monoclonal antibodies, the application of which to scintigraphic localization of specific cell surface antigen-bearing tumours is plagued by slow blood clearance and, hence, high background levels.