The distribution of D1/D5, D2/D3, D2/D3/D4, and individually, putative D2-D4 receptors across the dorsal vagal complex of the human medulla was assessed with quantitative receptor autoradiography. D1/D5 receptors were found in very low levels. D2 receptors were concentrated in the intermediate and medial subnuclei of the nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS), and in the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMN), while D3 receptors were more homogeneous across the entire NTS, area postrema (AP), and DMN. In contrast, D4 receptors were found almost exclusively in the intermediate and medial subnuclei of the NTS, and in the DMN. These findings suggest that the "D2 family" of receptors is an important component of brain stem mechanisms regulating visceral function, including gastrointestinal systems, such as emesis, along with cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. Compounds with individual selectivity for D2, D3, or D4 receptors may be useful in the manipulation of neural networks regulating these visceral systems.