In rat brain, the cellular localization of a phosphoinositide-linked metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR1 alpha) was demonstrated using antibodies that recognize the C-terminus of the receptor. mGluR1 alpha, a 142 kd protein, is enriched within the olfactory bulb, stratum oriens of CA1 and polymorph layer of dentate gyrus in hippocampus, globus pallidus, thalamus, substantia nigra, superior colliculus, and cerebellum. Lower levels of mGluR1 alpha are present within neocortex, striatum, amygdala, hypothalamus, and medulla. Dendrites, spines, and neuronal cell bodies contain mGluR1 alpha. mGluR1 alpha is not detectable in presynaptic terminals. mGluR1 alpha and ionotropic alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate (AMPA) receptor subunits show differential distributions, but in Purkinje cells, mGluR1 alpha and specific AMPA receptor subunits colocalize. The postsynaptic distribution of mGluR1 alpha is consistent with postulated physiological roles of this subtype of glutamate receptor.