Abstract: Transport of [tyrosyl-3, 5−3H]enkephaIin-(5-L-leucine) ([3H]Leu-enkephalin) across the blood-brain barrier was studied in the adult guinea pig, by means of vascular perfusion of the head in vivo. The unidirectional transfer constant (Kim) estimated from the multiple-time uptake data for [3H]Leu-enkephalin ranged from 3.62 ± 10−3 to 3.63 ± 10−3 ml min−1 g−1in the parietal cortex, caudate nucleus, and hippocampus. Transport of [3H]Leu-enkephalin was not inhibited by unlabelled L-tyrosine (the N-terminal amino acid) at a concentration as high as 5 mM, or by the inhibitor of aminopeptidase activity bacitracin (2 mM), suggesting that there was no enzymatic degradation of peptide at the blood-brain barrier. By contrast, 2 mM unlabelled Leu-enkephalin strongly inhibited the unidirectional blood-to-brain transport of [3H]Leu-enkephalin by 74-78% in the parietal cortex, caudate nucleus, and hippocampus. The tetrapeptide tyrosyl-glycyl-glycyl-phenylalanine (without the C-terminal leucine of Leu-enkephalin), at a concentration of 5 mM, caused a moderate inhibition ranging from 15 to 29% in the brain regions studied, whereas the tetrapeptide glycyl-glycyl-phenylalanyl-leucine (without the N-terminal tyrosine) at 5 mM was without effect on Leu-enkephalin transport. Unidirectional brain uptake of Leu-enkephalin was not altered in the presence of naloxone at a concentration as high as 3 mM(I mg/ml), suggesting that there is no binding of Leu-enkephalin to opioid receptors at the blood-brain barrier. It is concluded that there is a specific transport mechanism for Leu-enkephalin at the blood-brain barrier in the guinea pig.