Electron microscopy and postembedding immunocytochemistry on rapidly frozen, freeze-substituted specimens of rat olfactory epithelia were used to study the subcellular localization of the transduction proteins Golf alpha and type III adenylyl cyclase. Antibody binding sites for both of these proteins occur in the same receptor cell compartments, the distal segments of the olfactory cilia. These segments line the boundary between organism and external environment inside the olfactory part of the nasal cavity. Therefore, they are the receptor cell regions that most likely first encounter odorous compounds. The results presented here provide direct evidence to support the conclusion that the distal segments of the cilia contain the sites of the early events of olfactory transduction.