Pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP) is a 38 amino acid peptide originally isolated from ovine hypothalamus. It has a potent stimulatory action on adenylate cyclase in the rat pituitary. The presence of PACAP was studied in the tumor tissues of ganglioneuroblastoma and neuroblastoma by radioimmunoassay and immunocytochemistry. Immunocytochemical studies showed positive immunostaining in 4 out of 7 ganglioneuroblastomas and 4 out of 6 neuroblastomas. Immunoreactive PACAP concentrations in tissues of 3 gangioneuroblastomas ranged from 14.5 to 27.8 pmol/g wet weight (20.0 ± 5.7 pmol/g wet weight, mean ± S.D.) and the concentration in one neuroblastoma tissue was 111.0 pmol/g wet weight. Reverse phase high performance liquid chromatography of the tumor tissue extract of ganglioneuroblastoma showed a peak eluting in the position of PACAP1-38 and smaller broad peaks eluting later. These results indicated that high concentrations of immunoreactive PACAP were present in the tumor tissues of ganglioneuroblastoma and neuroblastoma, and suggest the possibility that this peptide plays a pathophysiological role in some ganglioneuroblastomas and neuroblastomas.