Insulin-like growth factor-II (IGF-II) binding in the growing tip of the deer antler was examined using autoradiographical studies, radioreceptor assays and affinity cross-linking studies. Antler tips from red deer stags were removed 60 days after the commencement of growth, and cryogenically cut into sections. Sections were incubated with radiolabelled IGF-II, with or without an excess of competing unlabelled IGF-II and analysed autoradiographically. Radiolabelled IGF-II showed high specific binding in the reserve mesenchyme and perichondrium zones, which are tissues undergoing rapid differentiation and cell division in the antler. Binding to all other structural zones was low and significantly (P<0·001) less than binding to the reserve mesenchyme/perichondrium zones. Radioreceptor assays on antler microsomal membrane preparations revealed that the IGF-II binding was to a relatively homogeneous receptor population (Kd= 1·3 × 10−10 mol/l) with characteristics that were not entirely consistent with those normally attributed to the type 2 IGF receptor. Tracer binding was partly displaceable by IGF-I and insulin at concentrations above 10 nmol/l. However, affinity cross-linking studies revealed a single band migrating at 220 kDa under non-reducing conditions, indicative of the type 2 IGF receptor. These results indicate that, in antler tip tissues, IGF-II binds to sites which have different binding patterns and properties from receptors binding IGF-I. This may have functional significance as it appears that, whilst IGF-I has a role in matrix development of cartilage, IGF-II may have a role in the most rapidly differentiating and proliferating tissues of the antler.