Macrophages, as antigen-processing and -presenting cells to T lymphocytes, play a key role in the immune system and are suspected to be target cells of the sex hormone-related dimorphism in the immune response peculiar to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pathology. In the present study, the use of specific monoclonal antibodies revealed immunostaining for androgen and estrogen receptors in primary cultures of macrophages obtained from synovial tissues of patients affected by RA and controls without RA disease. Soluble and nuclear type I (high affinity, low capacity) and type II (lower affinity, greater capacity) sites of androgen or estrogen binding were detected in primary cultures of RA macrophages using radioligand binding assay. Higher levels of type I and type II estrogen receptor compared to those of androgen receptor were found, particularly in the soluble fraction; however, contrary to what was observed in whole synovial tissues, higher steroid receptor concentrations were found in the soluble than in the nuclear fraction of RA synovial macrophages. Binding affinities and receptor contents of cultured synovial macrophages were comparable to those previously reported in other well established sex hormone-responsive cells and tissues. Further, specific messenger ribonucleic acids for sex hormone receptors, encoding for a sequence of the DNA-binding domain of the receptor proteins were revealed by RT-PCR.