[en] The presence of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) receptors has been previously demonstrated in corticotrophs from normal pituitaries using a method combining immunocytochemistry and liquid emulsion autoradiography. The aim of this study was to compare the characteristics of the 125I-Tyr0-hCRH binding in corticotrophs from normal pituitaries (three obtained at autopsy and one obtained at surgery) with corticotrophs from pituitary adenomas (six corticotroph adenomas responsible for Cushing's disease and two silent corticotroph adenomas secreting a biologically inactive ACTH molecule). In normal corticotrophs, the larger part of the 125I-Tyr0-hCRH binding was localised in patchy conglomerates at the centre of the cell and, to a much lesser degree, in a diffuse pattern at the cell periphery. In adenomatous corticotrophs, CRH receptor expression is disturbed both quantitatively and qualitatively. Except for a minority of cells in one adenoma, all adenomatous corticotrophs showed only peripherally bound 125I-Tyr0-hCRH and no centrally localised binding. Furthermore, adenomatous corticotrophs revealed a statistically significant lower signal intensity when compared to normal corticotrophs and a strongly negative correlation was found between the labelling area in adenomatous corticotrophs and both the basal and CRH-stimulated plasma ACTH levels. These findings suggest defective processing of CRH receptors and could be relevant to the sustained ACTH secretion by adenomatous corticotrophs in Cushing's disease and, more generally, provide an explanation to its pathology. The silent corticotrophs secreting a biologically inactive ACTH molecule were characterised by a very faint signal intensity, although present on almost every cell.