Galanin, an ubiquitous neuropeptide, was recently shown to inhibit somatostatin release by the rat islet tumor cell line, Rin-m. By using the clonal pancreatic delta cell line Rin14B, originating from Rin-m cells, we were able to identify the presence of one type of specific galanin-binding site of high affinity (Kd = 1.6 nM; maximal binding capacity = 270 fmol/mg protein) and high specificity for the peptide. Binding of 125I-galanin to these receptors was time-dependent and highly sensitive to guanine nucleotides. Using the cross-linker disuccinimidyl tartrate, covalent linking of the galanin receptor to 125I-galanin in membranes from Rin14B cells, followed by SDS/PAGE analysis of membrane proteins, indicated that the galanin receptor is a protein of 54 kDa. 0.1-100 nM galanin also exerted a marked inhibitory effect on the cAMP-production system under basal conditions, as well as in the presence of the pancreatic peptide glucagon. At a maximal dose, galanin induces a 90-100% decrease of basal and glucagon-stimulated cAMP production levels, with a median inhibition concentration (IC50) of 3 nM galanin. The direct inhibitory effect of galanin on the adenylate cyclase activity in Rin14B cell membranes was also demonstrated (IC50 = 3 nM galanin). The inhibitory effect of galanin on the basal and glucagon-stimulated cAMP production in Rin14B cells was reversed by pertussis toxin. The toxin was also shown to specifically ADP-ribosylate a protein of 41 kDa in membranes from Rin14B cells. Taken together, these data show that the pancreatic delta cell line Rin14B expresses high affinity galanin receptors negatively coupled to a pertussis-toxin-sensitive cAMP-production system.