Some pituitary tumours respond to dopamine by decreasing the release of prolactin and/or GH and by inhibition of tumour growth. Certain tumours are unresponsive. Dopamine D2 receptor high-affinity binding is impaired in these tumours, and the rat GH3 cell line behaves in a similar way. The hypothesis that the dopamine-binding defect results from impaired D2 receptor gene expression has been tested in the present study. On Northern blots, D2 receptor mRNA was present in both normal rat pituitary cells and in GH3 cells. Sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis identified a putative D2 receptor protein in normal and GH3 cell membranes. The lack of effect of dopamine in GH3 cells does not reflect the absence of D2 receptor gene expression.