Numerous studies have demonstrated a dense concentration of opioid receptors in the superficial layers (laminae I-II) of the spinal cord. These receptors are located both pre- and postsynaptically at this level. The purpose of this study was to assess the distribution of opioid receptors belonging to a single (C7) dorsal root. Thus, quantitative autoradiography of γ ([3H]Tyr-d-Ala-Gly-NMe-Phe-Gly-ol; [3H]DAMGO) and δ ([3H]Tyr-d-Thr-Gly-Phe-Leu-Thr; [3H]DTLET) opioid binding sites was performed for several experimental groups: control rats with intact dorsal roots and lesioned rats with a unilateral dorsal rhizotomy of (a) the C7 root alone, (b) the three successive roots rostral and caudal to the spared C7 root, and (c) the seven roots C4-Th2. By subtracting results of the ‘C7 cut’ group from the ‘intact’ group or by subtracting results of the C4-Th2 cut group from the C7 spaced group, it was possible to measure the distribution of γ. and δ opioid binding sites belonging to the C7 root. The combination of these two methods of calculation allowed us to demonstrate a significant distribution over two segments rostral and one segment caudal to the segment of entry. For [3H]DAMGO, the distribution was 10% (P < 0.05) in the C5, 27%, (P < 0.001) in the C6, 38% (P < 0.001) in the C7 and 14% (P < 0.05) in the C8 segment. For [3H]DTLET, the distribution was 11% (P= 0.05) in the C5, 27%, (P < 0.01) in the C6, 37% (P < 0.001) in the C7 and 18% (P < 0.05) in the C8 segment. It is also noted that rostral distributions spread more densely and further than the caudal ones.