We investigated the expression of alpha1-adrenergic receptor subtypes in intact human peripheral blood lymphocytes using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and radioligand binding assay techniques combined with antibodies against the three subtypes of alpha1-adrenergic receptors (alpha1A, alpha1B, and alpha1D). RT-PCR amplified in peripheral blood lymphocytes a 348-bp alpha1A-adrenergic receptor fragment, a 689-bp alpha1B-adrenergic receptor fragment, and a 540-bp alpha1D-adrenergic receptor fragment. Radioligand binding assay with [3H]prazosin as radioligand revealed a high-affinity binding with a dissociation constant value of 0. 65+/-0.05 nmol/L and a maximum density of binding sites of 175. 3+/-20.5 fmol/10(6) cells. The pharmacological profile of [3H]prazosin binding to human peripheral blood lymphocytes was consistent with the labeling of alpha1-adrenergic receptors. Antibodies against alpha1A-, alpha1B-, and alpha1D-receptor subtypes decreased [3H]prazosin binding to a different extent. This indicates that human peripheral blood lymphocytes express the three alpha1-adrenergic receptor subtypes. Of the three different alpha1-adrenergic receptor subtypes, the alpha1B is the most represented and the alpha1D, the least. Future studies should clarify the functional relevance of alpha1-adrenergic receptors expressed by peripheral blood lymphocytes. The identification of these sites may represent a step for evaluating whether they represent a marker of alpha1-adrenergic receptors in cardiovascular disorders or for assessing responses to drug treatment on these receptors.