[125I]Peptide YY was used to localize and characterize peptide YY and neuropeptide Y receptor binding sites in the heart. In the rat and rabbit heart, nearly every artery and arteriole that could be histologically identified also expressed saturable binding sites for [125I]peptide YY. In the arteries, these [125I]peptide YY binding sites were primarily associated with the smooth muscle layer. Pharmacological experiments demonstrated that peptide YY and neuropeptide Y were equipotent in competing for [125I]peptide YY binding in the heart. In another competition series, [Leu31,Pro34]-neuropeptide Y (a Y1 receptor-specific agonist when used with [125I]peptide YY) was significantly more potent than neuropeptide Y13-36(a Y2 receptor-specific agonist when used with [125I]peptide YY) in competing for [125I]peptide YY binding from coronary arteries, suggesting that the receptor binding sites on cardiac arteries and arterioles are of the Y1 subtype. These results demonstrate that smooth muscle cells of the atrial and ventricular arteries and arterioles in rat and rabbit heart express Y1 receptors and suggest a possible direct effect of neuropeptide Y on coronary blood vessels to induce vasoconstriction. © 1993.