Calcitonin generelated peptide (CGRP) is a neuropeptide discovered by a molecular approach over 10 years ago. More recently, islet amyloid polypeptide or amylin, and adrenomedullin were isolated from human insulinoma and pheochromocytoma respectively, and revealed between 25 and 50% sequence homology with CGRP. This review discusses findings on the anatomical distributions of CGRP mRNA, CGRP-like immunoreactivity and receptors in the central nervous system, as well as the potential physiological roles for CGRP. The anatomical distribution and biological activities of amylin and adrenomedullin are also presented. Based upon the differential biological activity of various CGRP analogs, the CGRP receptors have been classified in two major classes, namely the CGRP1 and CGRP2 subtypes. A third subtype has also been proposed (e.g. in the nucleus accumbens) as it does not share the pharmacological properties of the other two classes. The anatomical distribution and the pharmacological characteristics of amylin binding sites in the rat brain are different from those reported for CGRP but share several similarities with the salmon calcitonin receptors. The receptors identified thus far for CGRP and related peptides belong to the G protein-coupled receptor superfamily. Indeed, modulation of adenylate cyclase activity following receptor activation has been reported for CGRP, amylin and adrenomedullin. Furthermore, the binding affinity of CGRP and related peptides is modulated by nucleotides such as GTP. The cloning of various calcitonin and most recently of CGRP1 and adrenomedullin receptors was reported and revealed structural similarities but also significant differences to other members of the G protein-coupled receptors. They may thus form a new subfamily. The cloning of the amylin receptor(s) as well as of the other putative CGRP receptor subtype(s) are still awaited. Finally, a broad variety of biological activities has been described for CGRP-like peptides. These include vasodilation, nociception, glucose uptake and the stimulation of glycolysis in skeletal muscles. These effects may thus suggest their potential role and therapeutic applications in migraine, subarachnoid haemorrhage, diabetes and pain-related mechanisms, among other disorders.