Using monoiodinated peptide YY (PYY) and galanin as radioligands, and neuropeptide Y (NPY) fragments, the distribution of NPY binding sites and its subtypes Y1 and Y2, and of galanin binding sites, was investigated in rat and monkey lumbar (L) 4 and L5 dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and spinal cord before and after a unilateral sciatic nerve cut, ligation or crush. Receptor autoradiography revealed that [125I]PYY bound to some DRG neurons and a few nerve fibres in normal rat DRG, and most of these neurons were small. NPY binding sites were observed in laminae I–IV and X of the rat dorsal horn and in the lateral spinal nucleus, with the highest density in laminae 1–11. [125I]NPY binding was most strongly attenuated by NPY13–36, a Y2 agonist, and partially inhibited by [Leu31,Pro34]NPY, a Y1 agonist, in both rat DRG and the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. These findings suggest that Y2 receptors are the main NPY receptors in rat DRG and dorsal horn, but also that Y1 receptors exist. After sciatic nerve cut, PYY binding markedly increased in nerve fibres and neurons in DRG, especially in large neuron profiles, and in laminae III-IV of the dorsal horn, as well as in nerve fibres in dorsal roots and the sciatic nerve. Incubation with NPY13–36 completely abolished PYY binding, which was also reduced by [Leu,31 Pro34] NPY. However, the increase in PYY binding seen in laminae I–IV of the ipsilateral dorsal horn after axotomy was not observed after coincubation with [Leu31, Pro34] NPY. NPY binding sites were seen in a few neurons in monkey DRG and in laminae I-II, X and IX of the monkey spinal cord. The intensity of PYY binding in laminae I-II of the dorsal horn was decreased after axotomy. Galanin receptor binding sites were not observed in rat DRG, but were observed in the superficial dorsal horn of the spinal cord, mainly in laminae I-II. Axotomy had no effect on galanin binding in rat DRG and dorsal horn. However, galanin receptor binding was observed in many neurons in monkey L4 and L5 DRG and in laminae I–IV and X of monkey L4 and L5 spinal cord, with the highest intensity in laminae I-II. No marked effect of axotomy was observed on the distribution and intensity of galanin binding in monkey DRG or spinal cord. The present results indicate that after axotomy the synthesis of NPY receptors is increased in rat DRG neurons, especially in large neurons, and is transported to the laminae I–IV of the ipsilateral dorsal horn and into the sciatic nerve. No such up-regulation of the NPY receptor occurred in monkey DRG after axotomy. The Y2 receptor seems to be the main NPY receptor in DRG and the dorsal horn of the rat and monkey spinal cord, but Y1 receptors also exist. The increase in NPY binding sites in laminae I–IV of the dorsal horn after axotomy partly represents Y1 receptors. In contrast to the rat, galanin binding sites could be identified in monkey lumbar DRG. No effect of axotomy on the distribution of galanin binding sites in rat or monkey DRG and dorsal horn was detected, suggesting their presence on local dorsal horn neurons (or central afferents).