The chemoreceptors in the legs of lobsters function in the localization and handling of food. By single-unit extracellular recording techniques, the specificity of single primary chemoreceptor cells is described here in detail. In contrast to what is known in vertebrates, narrow-spectrum chemoreceptors of several different types were found, each type responding with maximal sensitivity to only one of the following compounds: L-glutamate, L-glutamine, L-arginine, taurine, betaine, and ammonium chloride. Ammonium chloride sensitive cells were also highly specific. Other groups of narrow-spectrum cells - L-arginine, L-glutamine, taurine, and betaine sensitive chemoreceptors - showed equally strong specificity. These results indicate that the peripheral coding system in the legs of lobsters is based largely but perhaps not exclusively on narrow-spectrum chemoreceptor cells.