A growing body of evidence indicates spatial patterning of molecular expression and physiological activities in the olfactory epithelium and primary afferent circuits of the vertebrate olfactory bulb. Because our previous studies indicate that olfactory receptors specific for amino acids and a bile acid, taurocholic acid, project to segregated coding centres in the olfactory bulb, we further examined the afferent projections and pathways of the primary neuronal responses to putative pheromones by recording the electroencephalogram from various regions of the olfactory bulb. First, using the electro-olfactogram, we determined olfactory sensitivities of six salmonid species to these odorants. Prostaglandin F2 alpha and 15-keto-prostaglandin F2 alpha were potent olfactory stimulants for all tested salmonids, except rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). None of the salmonids responded to 17 alpha,20 beta-dihydroxy-4-pregnen-3-one. However, they were sensitive to etiocholan-3 alpha-ol-17-one glucuronide. In all salmonids examined, electroencephalograms to amino acids and taurocholic acid, applied singly or in combination, projected to two segregated regions, the lateroposterior and mid-olfactory bulb, respectively. Neither prostaglandin F2 alpha, 15-keto-prostaglandin F2 alpha nor etiocholan-3 alpha-ol-17-one glucuronide elicited electroencephalograms. These data indicate that, in salmonids, olfactory neurons responsive to amino acids and taurocholic acid project to spatially segregated regions, and thereby generated signals are encoded spatially and temporarily. The results also suggest that olfactory signals due to hormonal pheromones are processed in a manner distinct from those for amino acids and bile acids, and may possibly be mediated by extrabulbar primary olfactory fibres bypassing the bulb.