Transforming growth factor-alpha (TGFalpha) enhances neuronal survival and neurite outgrowth in cultured dorsal root ganglia (DRG) sensory neurons. It binds a membrane protein, denominated epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFr). EGFr has been localized in developing and adult human DRG. However, it remains to be elucidated whether all DRG neurons express EGFr or whether differences exist among neuronal subtypes. This study was undertaken to investigate these topics in adult human DRG using immunoblotting, and combined immunohistochemistry and image analysis techniques. A mouse monoclonal antibody (clone F4) mapping within the intracytoplasmic domain of EGFr was used. Immunoblotting revealed two main proteins with estimated molecular masses of approximately/equal to 65 kDa and 170 kDa, and thus consistent with the full-length EGFr. Additional protein bands were also encountered. Light immunohistochemistry revealed specific immunoreactivity (IR) for EGFr-like proteins in most (86%) primary sensory neurons, the intensity of immunostaining being stronger in the small- and intermediate-sized ones. Furthermore, EGFr-like IR was also observed in the satellite glial cells of the ganglia as well as in the intraganglionic and dorsal root Schwann cells. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that EGFr, and other related proteins containing the epitope labeled with the antibody F4, are responsible for the EGFr IR reported in DRG. Furthermore, we demonstrated heterogeneity in the expression of EGFr-like IR in adult human primary sensory neurons, which suggests different responsiveness to their ligands.