The tetradecapeptide somatostatin has been implicated as an important regulator of neuronal and neuroendocrine function in the CNS. The cellular actions of somatostatin are mediated by specific receptors. The genes encoding two different somatostatin receptors (SSTRs) have been isolated and characterized, and RNA blotting studies have shown that both SSTR1 and SSTR2 are expressed in the brain. In order to gain a better understanding of the functions of somatostatin in the CNS, the distribution of SSTR1 and SSTR2 mRNAs was determined using the technique of in situ hybridization. SSTR1 mRNA was present throughout the mouse brain, particularly in the supra- and infragranular layers of the cortex, the amygdala, hippocampus, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, substantia innominata, hypothalamus, pretectum, substantia nigra, parabrachial nucleus, and nucleus of the solitary tract. SSTR2 mRNA was primarily observed in the infragranular layers of the cortex, the amygdala, claustrum, endopiriform nucleus, arcuate and paraventricular nuclei of the hypothalamus, and medial habenular nucleus. Several regions of the brain reported to contain dense somatostatin-like immunoreactive terminal fields and receptor binding sites were devoid of both SSTR1 and SSTR2 mRNA, suggesting the existence of additional SSTR subtypes.