The cells of the immune system produce and respond to hormones that were once thought to be restricted to the neuroendocrine system. By applying a novel methodology based on the molecular recognition hypothesis, the isolation and purification of receptors shared between the immune and neuroendocrine systems was accomplished. Biochemical analysis revealed them to be virtually identical with respect to their physicochemical and functional properties. Thus, bidirectional communication between the immune and neuroendocrine systems seems to result from a common set of hormones and receptors which are shared by the two systems. Furthermore, the molecular recognition hypothesis has revealed that homologues of the binding sites of these same hormone receptor pairs may be contained within the hypervariable regions of immunoglobulins and therefore constitute part of the immunologic network. © 1989 S. Karger AG, Basel.