The distribution of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP)-immunopositive elements was analyzed in the olfactory bulb (OB) of the Western European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) under light and electron microscopy. The immunoreactivity appeared in an abundant population of periglomerular cells of the glomerular layer, in interneurons of the external plexiform layer, and in a restricted group of deep short-axon cells of the internal plexiform layer, the granule cell layer and the white matter. In the glomerular layer, VIP-containing periglomerular cells constituted a population of non-GABAergic neurons and did not receive synapses from olfactory axons. In the EPL, VIP-immunoreactivity appeared in a morphologically heterogeneous population of GABAergic interneurons, most of them identified as satellite cells and Van Gehuchten cells. These interneurons exerted an abundant and selective innervation of the somata, primary and secondary dendrites of the principal mitral and tufted cells, but did not contact granule cells. Perisomatic innervation of the principal cells followed two different patterns. The first included 'normal' basket-like arrangements of VIP-containing varicosities surrounding the somata of mitral and tufted cells. In the second, a set of satellite cells gave rise to short dendritic shafts that embraced the somata of principal cells in an 'exuberant' basket-like arrangement. These two morphological patterns of perisomatic innervation of principal cells were correlated with a neurochemical specificity of the target. In this sense, the 'exuberant' basket-like structures were always found surrounding a subpopulation of principal cells that did not contain the calcium-binding protein parvalbumin (PV). By contrast, they were never found surrounding the subpopulation of PV-containing principal cells, which only showed 'normal' basket-like structures. This study provides new data on the connectivity and neurochemical features of the hedgehog olfactory bulb and suggests that the olfactory circuits in this species are more complex than those described in other mammals.