N-Methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), phencyclidine (PCP), and quisqualate receptor binding were compared to benzodiazepine, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and muscarinic cholinergic receptor binding in the putamen and cerebral cortex of individuals with Huntington's disease (HD). NMDA receptor binding was reduced by 93 percent in putamen from HD brains compared to binding in normal brains. Quisqualate and PCP receptor binding were reduced by 67 percent, and the binding to other receptors was reduced by 55 percent or less. Binding to these receptors in the cerebral cortex was unchanged in HD brains. The results support the hypothesis that NMDA receptor-mediated neurotoxicity plays a role in the pathophysiology of Huntington's disease.