The distribution of dopamine (DA) D(2)-like receptors in the human thalamus was studied using in vitro autoradiographic techniques and in vivo positron emission tomography in normal control subjects. [(125)I]Epidepride, which binds with high affinity to DA D(2) and D(3) receptors, was used in autoradiographic studies to determine the distribution and density of D(2)-like receptors, and the epidepride analogue [(18)F]fallypride positron was used for positron emission tomography studies to delineate D(2)-like receptors in vivo. Both approaches revealed a heterogeneous distribution of thalamic D(2/3) receptors, with relatively high densities in the intralaminar and midline thalamic nuclei, including the paraventricular, parataenial, paracentral, centrolateral, and centromedian/parafascicular nuclei. Moderate densities of D(2/3) sites were seen in the mediodorsal and anterior nuclei, while other thalamic nuclei expressed lower levels of D(2)-like receptors. Most thalamic nuclei that express high densities of D(2)-like receptors project to forebrain DA terminal fields, suggesting that both the thalamic neurons expressing D(2)-like receptors and the projection targets of these neurons are regulated by DA. Because the midline/intralaminar nuclei receive prominent projections from both the ascending reticular activating core and the hypothalamus, these thalamic nuclei may integrate activity conveying both interoceptive and exteroceptive information to telencephalic DA systems involved in reward and cognition.