Radionuclide labeled somatostatin analogues selectively target somatostatin receptor (SSTR)-expressing tumors as a basis for diagnosis and treatment of these tumors. Recently, a DOTA-functionalized somatostatin analogue, DOTATOC (DOTA-DPhe(1)-Tyr(3)-octreotide) has been developed. This compound has been shown to be superior to the other somatostatin analogues as indicated by its uniquely high tumor-to-non-target tissue ratio. DOTATOC can be labeled with a variety of radiometals including gallium radioisotopes. Gallium-66 is a positron emitting radionuclide (T-1/2 = 9.5 hr; beta(+) =56%), that can be produced in carrier free form by a low-beam energy cyclotron. In this study we investigated SSTR targeting characteristics of Ga-66-DOTATOC in AR42J rat pancreas tumor implanted nude mice as a potential agent for diagnosis and receptor-mediated internal radiotherapy of SSTR-expressing tumors. We compared our results with Ga-67- and Ga-68-labeled DOTATOC. The radiolabeling procedure gave labeling yield ranged from 85-95% and radiochemical and chemical purity was > 95%. In-vitro competitive binding curves and in-vivo competitive displacement studies with an excess of unlabeled peptide indicates that there is specific binding of the radioligand to SSTR. Animal biodistribution data and serial microPET(TM) images demonstrated rapid tumor uptake and rapid clearance from the blood and all tissues except kidney. Maximum % ID/g values for tumor were 10.0 +/- 0.7, 13.2 +/- 2.1 and 9.8 +/- 1.5 for Ga-66-, Ga-67-, and Ga-68-DOTATOC, respectively. Calculated tumor, kidney and bone marrow doses for Ga-66-DOTATOC based on biodistribution data were 178, 109 and 1.2 cGy/MBq, respectively.