In addition to its traditional role as a circulating hormone, angiotensin is also involved in local functions through the activity of tissue renin-angiotensin systems that occur in many organs, including the brain. In the brain, both systemic and presumptive neurally derived angiotensin and angiotensin metabolites act through specific receptors to modulate many functions. This review examines the distribution of these specific angiotensin receptors and discusses evidence regarding the function of angiotensin peptides in various brain regions. Angiotensin AT1 and AT2 receptors occur in characteristic distributions that are highly correlated with the distribution of angiotensin-like immunoreactivity in nerve terminals. Acting through the AT1 receptor in the brain, angiotensin has effects on fluid and electrolyte homeostasis, neuroendocrine systems, autonomic pathways regulating cardiovascular function and behavior. Angiotensin AT1 receptors are also found in many afferent and efferent components of the peripheral autonomic nervous system. The role of the AT2 receptor in the brain is less well understood, although recent knockout studies point to an involvement with behavioral and cardiovascular functions. In addition to the AT1 and AT2 receptors, receptors for other fragments of angiotensin have been proposed. The AT4 binding site, which binds angiotensin, has a widespread distribution in the brain quite distinct from that of the AT1 and AT2 receptors. It is associated with many cholinergic neuronal groups and also several sensory nuclei, but its function remains to be determined. Our discovery that another brain-derived peptide binds to the AT4 binding site in the brain and may represent the native ligand is discussed. Overall, the distribution of angiotensin receptors in the brain indicate that they play diverse and important physiological roles in the nervous system.