Opiate receptors have been identified within the striatum and some have been localized presynaptically to nigrostriatal neurons. Using unilateral ablative lesions of the substantia nigra, we examined binding in the ipsilateral and contralateral striata. Lesions significantly lowered both 3H[D-Ala2,MePhe4,Gly(ol)5]enkephalin (DAGO) and 3H[D-Ala2,Leu5]enkephalin (DADL) binding. The inclusion of competitors in these assays revealed a decrease in both mu1 and mu2 receptors. Mu1 binding was slightly more sensitive to the lesioning than mu2 binding. Selective mu1 and mu2 binding assays supported these observations. No change in delta binding was observed in the lesioned striata. These studies raise the possibility that both mu1 and mu2, but not delta, receptors are localized presynaptically on nigrostriatal neurons.