We have evaluated the potential usefulness of radiolabelled [DTPA0,Tyr3]octreotide and [DOTA0,Tyr3]octreotide as radiopharmaceuticals for somatostatin receptor-targeted scintigraphy and radiotherapy. In vitro somatostatin receptor binding and in vivo metabolism in rats of the compounds were investigated in comparison with [111In-DTPA0] octreotide. Comparing different peptide-chelator constructs, [DTPA0,Tyr3]octreotide and [DOTA0,Tyr3]octreotide were found to have a higher affinity than [DTPA0]octreotide for subtype 2 somatostatin receptors (sst2) in mouse AtT20 pituitary tumour cell membranes (all IC50 values obtained were in the low nanomolar range). In vivo studies in CA20948 tumor-bearing Lewis rats revealed a significantly higher uptake of both 111In-labelled [DOTA0,Tyr3]octreotide and [DTPA0,Tyr3]octreotide in sst2-expressing tissues than after injection of [111In-DTPA0]octreotide, showing that substitution of Tyr for Phe at position 3 in octreotide results in an increased affinity for its receptor and in a higher target tissue uptake. Uptake of 111In-labelled [DTPA0]octreotide, [DTPA0,Tyr3]octreotide and [DOTA0,Tyr3]octreotide in pituitary, pancreas, adrenals and tumour was decreased to less than 7% of control by pre-treatment with 0.5 mg unlabelled octreotide/rat, indicating specific binding to sst2. Comparing different radionuclides, [90Y-DOTA0,Tyr3]octreotide had the highest uptake in sst2-positive organs, followed by the [111In-DOTA0,Tyr3]octreotide, whereas [DOTA0,125I-Try3]octreotide uptake was low compared to that of the other radiopharmaceuticals, when measured 24 hr after injection. Renal uptake of 111In-labelled [DTPA0]octreotide, [DTPA0,Tyr3]octreotide and [DOTA0,Tyr3]octreotide was reduced over 50% by an i.v. injection of 400 mg/kg D-lysine, whereas radioactivity in blood, pancreas and adrenals was not affected.