Intracellular localization of serotonin (5-HT) in the mast cells of two phenotypes in normal rat colon and dextran sodium sulphate-induced colitis was studied by immunoelectron microscopy with a quantitative analysis of the distribution of immunogold labelling. Mucosal mast cells in normal rats contained round shape secretory granules with varying electron density. Immunogold labelling for 5-HT was concentrated over the secretory granules. In mucosal mast cells from colitis rats, vacuolated granules without 5-HT labelling were frequently observed and immunogold labelling over the secretory granules was significantly increased compared to controls. On the other hand, connective tissue mast cells in normal rats contained oval shape secretory granules with homogeneous electron density. Their immunogold labelling was diffusely scattered over the secretory granules as well as over the cytoplasm. In connective tissue mast cells from colitis rats, secretory granules with high electron density were increased and the immunogold labelling over the secretory granules was much higher than that in controls. The present results suggest that intracellular localization of 5-HT is different in two phenotypes of mast cells and they may release 5-HT in a different manner. Mucosal mast cells may release 5-HT by a degranulation or exocytosis, while connective tissue mast cells may release 5-HT by a diacrine manner of secretion.