125I-[Leu31,Pro34]peptide YY (PYY) and 125I-PYY3-36, initially described as selective neuropeptide Y Y1 and Y2 receptor ligands, respectively, were recently shown to label also Y4 and Y5 receptors. We used receptor autoradiography to assess whether these ligands can be reliably used to investigate the various neuropeptide Y receptors in rat forebrain. In most of the brain regions examined (in coronal sections at the level of dorsal hippocampus), specific 125I-[Leu31,Pro34]PYY binding was completely inhibited by 1 μM BIBP-3226, a selective Y1 receptor ligand, but unaffected by 10 nM rat pancreatic polypeptide, selectively inhibiting Y4 receptors, suggesting that Y4 receptors are present in negligible numbers compared with Y1 receptors in the areas examined. Significant numbers of BIBP-3226-insensitive 125I-[Leu31,Pro34]PYY binding sites were measured in the CA3 subfield of the hippocampus only, possibly representing Y5 receptors. 125I-PYY3-36 binding was unchanged by 1 μM BIBP-3226, whereas a population of 125I-PYY3-36 binding sites was sensitive to 100 nM [Leu31,Pro34]neuropeptide Y, likely representing Y5 receptors. The possibility of distinguishing between Y2 and Y5 receptors using 125I-PYY3-36 as radioligand was validated by their different regional distribution and their distinct changes 24 h after kainate seizures, i.e., binding to Y5 receptors was selectively decreased in the outer cortex, whereas binding to Y2 receptors was enhanced in the hippocampus. Thus, the use of selective unlabeled compounds is required for distinguishing the various receptor subtypes labeled by 125I-[Leu31,Pro34]PYY and 125I-PYY3-36 in rat brain tissue.