A new class of G-proteins, the Gq family, has been recently identified and found to be involved in phospholipase C activation. The alpha subunits of the Gq and G11 members of this family are separate polypeptides but appear to have the same function. In this study, the cellular distribution in the adult rat brain of these G-proteins, Gq alpha/G11 alpha, was determined by immunohistochemistry using an antipeptide antiserum directed against the predicted C-terminal decapeptide which is conserved between these polypeptides. The specificity of the antiserum was verified by Western blot analysis using rat brain homogenates. Immunoreactivity was detected in neurons, where it was localized in the dendrites and at the periphery of the cell bodies. The staining was abundant in the dendrites of cerebellar Purkinje cells and hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells. Staining was also found in neurons in the olfactory bulb, minor and major islets of Calleja, anterior olfactory nuclei and piriform cortex; the different cortical areas especially in their superficial layers; caudate-putamen, accumbens and olfactory tubercle; lateral septum and amygdala; hippocampal CA2-4 sectors of Ammon's horn, dentate gyrus and hilus; hypothalamic supraoptic nucleus; cerebellar granular layer; colliculi and superficial layers of the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. In conclusion, the brain neuronal localizations of Gq alpha/G11 alpha match that of phospholipase C, 1,4,5-triphosphate receptor and, to a lesser extent 1,4,5-triphosphate-3-kinase.