The characterization of the Caenorhabditis elegans unc-47 gene recently allowed the identification of a mammalian (gamma)-amino butyric acid (GABA) transporter, presumed to be located in the synaptic vesicle membrane. In situ hybridization data in rat brain suggested that it might also take up glycine and thus represent a general Vesicular Inhibitory Amino Acid Transporter (VIAAT). In the present study, we have investigated the localization of VIAAT in neurons by using a polyclonal antibody raised against the hydrophilic N-terminal domain of the protein. Light microscopy and immunocytochemistry in primary cultures or tissue sections of the rat spinal cord revealed that VIAAT was localized in a subset (63-65%) of synaptophysin-immunoreactive terminal boutons; among the VIAAT-positive terminals around motoneuronal somata, 32.9% of them were also immunoreactive for GAD65, a marker of GABAergic presynaptic endings. Labelling was also found apposed to clusters positive for the glycine receptor or for its associated protein gephyrin. At the ultrastructural level, VIAAT immunoreactivity was restricted to presynaptic boutons exhibiting classical inhibitory features and, within the boutons, concentrated over synaptic vesicle clusters. Pre-embedding detection of VIAAT followed by post-embedding detection of GABA or glycine on serial sections of the spinal cord or cerebellar cortex indicated that VIAAT was present in glycine-, GABA- or GABA- and glycine-containing boutons. Taken together, these data further support the view of a common vesicular transporter for these two inhibitory transmitters, which would be responsible for their costorage in the same synaptic vesicle and subsequent corelease at mixed GABA-and-glycine synapses.