We studied by immunohistochemistry the distribution of differentiation-associated sodium-dependent inorganic phosphate (Pi) cotransporter (DNPI) in the rat forebrain, in comparison with brain-specific cotransporter (BNPI). DNPI-staining was principally seen in axonal synaptic terminals which showed a widespread but discrete pattern of distribution different from that of the BNPI-staining. In the diencephalon, marked DNPI-staining was seen in the dorsal lateral geniculate, medial geniculate, ventral posterolateral, ventral posteromedial, anterior, and reticular thalamic nuclei without the colocalization with BNPI-staining. DNPI-staining showed a strong mosaical pattern and overlapped well the BNPI-staining in the medial habenular nucleus. DNPI-staining was moderate over the hypothalamus and notably localized in neurosecretory terminals containing corticotropin-releasing hormone in the median eminence. In contrast, the BNPI-staining was region-related and strong in the ventromedial and mammillary nuclei. In the telencephalon, laminar DNPI-staining was seen over the neocortex, corresponding to the thalamocortical termination, and also found in the retrosplenial cortex and the striatum, with the highest intensity in the accumbens nucleus shell. The present results suggest that DNPI serves as a dominant Pi transport system in synaptic terminals of diencephalic neurons including thalamocortical and thalamostriatal pathways as well as the hypothalamic neuroendocrine system in the rat forebrain.