Background: Prior to the sequencing of the human genome it was typically assumed that, tandem duplication aside, gene order is for the most part random. Numerous observers, however, highlighted instances in which a ligand was linked to one of its cognate receptors, with some authors suggesting that this may be a general and/or functionally important pattern, possibly associated with recombination modification between epistatically interacting loci. Here we ask whether ligands are more closely linked to their receptors than expected by chance. Results: We find no evidence that ligands are linked to their receptors more closely than expected by chance. However, in the human genome there are approximately twice as many co-occurrences of ligand and receptor on the same human chromosome as expected by chance. Although a weak effect, the latter might be consistent with a past history of block duplication. Successful duplication of some ligands, we hypothesise, is more likely if the cognate receptor is duplicated at the same time, so ensuring appropriate titres of the two products. Conclusion: While there is an excess of ligands and their receptors on the same human chromosome, this cannot be accounted for by classical models of non-random gene order, as the linkage of ligands/receptors is no closer than expected by chance. Alternative hypotheses for nonrandom gene order are hence worth considering.