Since four AMPA-type excitatory amino acid receptor subunits have been cloned recently, it is now possible to localize these important molecules in the nervous system. A comprehensive study of AMPA receptor immunocytochemistry was carried out on vibratome sections of rat brain, which were immunolabeled with antibodies made against peptides corresponding to the C-terminal portions of AMPA-receptor subunits: GluR1, GluR2/3, and GluR4. Labeling was most prominent in forebrain structures such as the olfactory bulb and tubercle, septal nuclei, amygdaloid complex, hippocampus, induseum griseum, habenula, and interpeduncular nucleus, and in the cerebellum. Different patterns of immunolabeling were evident with the antibodies to the four subunits, with marked contrast between densely and lightly stained structures with antibody to GluR1, widespread dense staining with antibody to GluR2/3, and moderate staining with antibody to GluR4. In the parietal cortex, some non-pyramidal neurons were more densely stained than pyramidal cells with antibodies to GluR1. Neurons of the main olfactory bulb, other than granule cells, were most densely stained with antibody to GluR1. In the cerebellum, Bergmann glia were densely stained with antibodies to GluR1 and 4, while neurons, other than granule cells, were most densely stained with antibody to GluR2/3. Immunolabeling patterns of all antibodies were consistent with that of previous in situ hybridization histochemistry studies and with the overall pattern of 3H-AMPA binding. Electron microscopy of thin sections taken from immunolabeled vibratome sections of hippocampus and cerebral cortex showed staining which was restricted mainly to postsynaptic densities and adjacent dendritoplasm, and to neuron cell body cytoplasm. We saw no convincing examples of stained presynaptic terminals, and only limited evidence of glial staining, excepting Bergmann glia.