The type of trigeminal ganglion cells that express 5-HT1B receptors has not been well characterized, despite the fact that these receptors are important targets for anti-migraine drugs. We have therefore used combined in situ hybridization and immunofluorescence to examine the expression of 5-HT1B receptor messenger RNA in identified subpopulations of rat trigeminal ganglion cells. 5-HT1B-expressing cells accounted for 15% of all trigeminal ganglion cells, were medium sized, and showed immunoreactivity for either 200,000 mol. wt neurofilament, calcitonin gene-related peptide, or nerve growth factor receptor (trkA). In contrast few 5-HT1B cells showed immunoreactivity for substance P or binding of the lectin Griffonia simplicifolia IB4. Our results are consistent with 5-HT1B receptors acting to control the release of calcitonin gene-related peptide from trigeminal neurons with finely myelinated axons. 5-HT1B receptor agonists may reduce neurogenic vasodilation by activating such receptors. However many nociceptive trigeminal neurons, including the substance P and IB4-binding populations, do not express the 5-HT1B receptor.