To demonstrate the localization of hyaluronic acid (HA) in rabbit cornea, the biotinylated HA-binding region, which specifically binds to the HA molecule, was applied to the tissue. Localization of chondroitin sulfate (CS) and CD44, a possible cell surface receptor for HA, were also examined by immunohistochemistry. The stainability of HA changed depending on the fixatives used. Reaction products for HA were distinctly detected in epithelial cells and stromal keratocytes, but faintly in the extracellular matrix of the stroma when unfixed cryosections were applied. No positive reaction was found in the endothelium, except that the positive deposits formed a continuous layer on the apical surface of the endothelium. Electron microscopy using samples fixed with 2% paraformaldehyde revealed gold particles indicating HA labeling the intercellular space of the epithelium and stromal extracellular matrix. No intracellular deposition was detected in epithelial cells, whereas the gold labeling was seen in vacuolar structures of stromal keratocytes. Immunodeposits for CS were intensely localized in the epithelium and stroma, and weakly in the endothelium. Immunoreactivity for CD44 was found in the epithelial, endothelial and stromal cells. In particular, immuno-deposits for CD44 were detected in basal parts of epithelial cells, while they were localized in the apical surface of endothelial cells. These results suggest that HA is synthesized in and secreted from epithelial and stromal cells of rabbit cornea, while the localization of HA in the apical surface of the endothelium is closely associated with that of CD44. Moreover, the presence of CS in corneal tissue may play a role in its transparency, as has been suggested for keratan sulfate and dermatan sulfate.