Galanin (i.v.) elevates circulating growth hormone levels in humans, and human growth hormone producing tumors show galanin-like immunoreactivity. We have therefore investigated the presence of galanin receptors in sixteen human pituitary tumors. Specific binding of [125I]monoiodo-[Tyr26]-porcine galanin was found in membranes from four clinically inactive and three growth hormone producing tumors. The affinity of human, rat and porcine galanin to these receptor sites was identical (Kd = 0.9 nM). The rank order of potency of galanin receptor ligands was the same in the human pituitary tissue as in the rat and porcine pituitary, hypothalamus, pancreas and hippocampus. GTP (1 mM) or GMPP(NH)P (0.5 mM) lowered the apparent specific binding of [125I]galanin (0.2 nM), suggesting that the human pituitary galanin receptor is coupled via a G-protein similarly to galanin receptors in mouse, rat and pig. The possible significance of galanin receptors in pituitary tumors is discussed.