Abstract Noradrenaline (NA)- and neuropeptide Y (NPY)- containing cell bodies were found to occur in high numbers (>75% of all cells were positive) in the human superior cervical ganglion and distributed homogeneously throughout the ganglion and showed co-localisation. A few cell bodies were VIP-immunoreactive (-ir) less than 5% but none of them showed NOS-, CGRP- or SP-ir. Receptor mRNA expression was studied with RT-PCR. Total RNA from the superior cervical ganglion was successfully extracted. By using appropriate sense and antisense oligonucleotides designed from the published human sequences, we could show the presence of mRNA for the human NPY Y 1, NPY Y 2 and VPAC 1 receptors but not CGRP 1 receptor mRNA.