Bombesin (Bn) receptor subtype 3(BRS-3) is an orphan G-protein-coupled receptor of the Bn family, which does not bind any natural Bn peptide with high affinity. Receptor knockout studies show that the animals develop diabetes, obesity, altered temperature control, and other central nervous system (CNS)/endocrine/gastrointestinal changes. It is present in CNS, peripheral tissues, and tumors; however, its role in normal physiology/pathophysiology, as well as its receptor localization/pharmacology is largely unknown, in part due to the lack of a convenient, specific, direct radiolabeled ligand. This study was designed to address this problem and to develop and characterize a specific radiolabeled ligand for BRS-3. The peptide antagonist Bantag-1 had >10,000-fold selectivity for human BRS-3 (hBRS-3) over other mammalian Bn receptors (BnRs) [i.e., gastrin-releasing peptide receptor (GRPR) and neuromedin B receptor (NMBR)]. Using iodogen and basic conditions, it was radiolabeled to high specific activity (2200 Ci/mmol) and found to bind with high affinity/specificity to hBRS-3. Binding was saturable, rapid, and reversible. The ligand only interacted with known BRS-3 ligands, and not with other specific GRPR/NMBR ligands or ligands for unrelated receptors. The magnitude of 125I-Bantag-1 binding correlated with BRS-3 mRNA expression and the magnitude of activation of phospholipase C in lung cancer cells, as well as readily identifying BRS-3 in lung cancer cells and normal tissues, allowing the direct assessment of BRS-3 receptor pharmacology/numbers on cells containing BRS-3 with other BnRs, which is usually the case. This circumvents the need for subtraction assays, which are now frequently used to assess BRS-3 indirectly using radiolabeled pan-ligands, which interact with all BnRs.