There is a complex system of 2- to 5-nm filaments in the oral apparatus of Tetrahymena. Four major subunit proteins, called tetrins, have been isolated from the filaments. These proteins, showing apparent molecular weights in polyacrylamide gels of 79-89 kDa, will assemble in vitro into 2- to 5-nm filaments. Tetrin filaments in vivo show different packing arrangements in different regions of the oral apparatus. We sought to determine the distributions of tetrin polypeptides within the complex oral structure by obtaining monoclonal antibodies specific for individual tetrins, then mapping their distributions within the oral apparatus using standard fluorescence microscopy, confocal laser scanning fluorescence microscopy, and electron microscopy. The results indicate that the four tetrin polypeptides are colocalized everywhere within the oral apparatus of Tetrahymena. Tetrin-binding proteins or specific nucleating structures may need to be invoked to explain the complex organization of the tetrin network. The 16 monoclonal antibodies obtained were also used to search for evidence of immunological relationships between tetrin and cytoskeletal proteins in multicellular organisms. None was found.