We have studied striatal D2 dopamine binding in schizophrenic patients treated with the novel atypical antipsychotic drug, olanzapine. 123I iodobenzamide (IBZM) single photon emission tomography (SPET) was used to estimate striatal dopamine D2 receptor binding in vivo. Patients were recruited from a prospective, double blind controlled trial of olanzapine versus haloperidol treatment. In vivo striatal D2 binding data from olanzapine treated patients (n = 6) were compared with previously reported data from typical antipsychotic responsive (n = 10); clozapine (n = 10); and risperidone (n = 6) treated patient groups. Mean % Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale score (BPRS) improvement following olanzapine treatment was 49% (SD 44). The hypothesis that clinical improvement in olanzapine treated patients would be associated with higher mean striatal D2 binding of 123I IBZM (reflecting lower levels of D2 occupancy) than typical antipsychotic (1.25 +/- 0.05) or risperidone (1.24 +/- 0.04) treatment was confirmed. Olanzapine treated patients had similar levels of striatal D2 binding in vivo (1.41 +/- 0.06) as those treated with clozapine (1.49 +/- 0.04). This preliminary evidence suggests olanzapine is another atypical antipsychotic drug in which therapeutic response is not associated with a high degree of striatal D2 receptor occupancy in vivo.