Objectives: Peptide YY is an abundant distal gut hormone which regulates secretion, motility, and possibly epithelial proliferation in the gut. Though messenger RNA for the peptide YY Y1 receptor subtype occurs in the basal colonic crypts of humans, peptide YY receptors themselves have not been clearly localized within the adult human gastrointestinal tract. Using an antiserum directed against the C-terminus of the Y1 receptor we determined the actual extent of Y1 receptor protein expression in the human colon in order to identify areas targeted for peptide YY effects and suggest additional physiological roles for PYY in the human gut. Results: Y1 receptor protein expression was seen throughout the colonic epithelium along its basolateral aspect. There was an unexpected dense distribution of Y1 receptor immunoreactivity in varicose fibers within the mucosa. Staining was also noted in nerve fibers of the muscularis mucosae, in the submucous and myenteric plexuses, and in nerves in the muscularis propria. Conclusions: Widespread distribution of Y1 receptors in the colonic epithelium and mucosal nerve fibers suggests diverse regulatory roles for peptide YY in modulating epithelial function as well as secretomotor reflexes in response to lumenal peptide YY-release signals. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.