Megalin is an endocytic receptor predominantly expressed in the kidney proximal tubule cells. In the present study, localization of megalin was examined using a post-embedding immunogold method in the rat cochlear duct. Marginal cells of the stria vascularis were labeled on the apical surface, but not on the basolateral surface. This localization pattern resembles kidney proximal tubule cells. Immunoreactivity was also detected on various other cells, including epithelial cells of the spiral prominence and epithelial cells of Reissner's membrane. In contrast, virtually no gold particles were seen on intermediate cells and basal cells of the stria vascularis, mesothelial cells of Reissner's membrane or fibrocytes in the lateral wall. Also unlabeled were cells in the tympanic wall of the cochlear duct, including sensory cells and supporting cells of the organ of Corti. The present findings show the involvement of megalin in endocytosis of marginal cells and are suggestive of different uptake mechanisms for aminoglycosides in the kidney proximal tubule cells and in the cochlear sensory cells.