Imidazoleacetic acid-ribotide (IAA-RP) is a putative neurotransmitter/modulator recently discovered in mammalian brain. The present study examines the distribution of IAA-RP in the rat CNS using a highly specific antiserum raised in rabbit against IAA-RP with immunostaining of aldehyde-fixed rat CNS. IAA-RP-immunoreactive neurons were present throughout the neuraxis; neuroglia were not labeled. In each region, only a subset of the neuronal pool was immunostained. In the forebrain, ribotide-immunolabeled neurons were common in neocortex, in hippocampal formation, and in subcortical structures including basal ganglia, thalamus and hypothalamus. Labeling was prominent in limbic areas including olfactory bulb, basal forebrain, pyriform cortex and amygdala. In the mid- and hindbrain, immunolabeled neurons were concentrated in specific nuclei and, in some areas, in specific subregions of those nuclei. Structures of the motor system, including cranial nerve motor nuclei, precerebellar nuclei, the substantia nigra, and the red nucleus were clearly labeled. Staining was intense in cells and/or puncta in the rostral and caudal ventrolateral medullary reticular formation, nucleus tractus solitarius and the caudal vestibular nuclear complex. Within neurons, the ribotide was found predominantly in somata and dendrites; some myelinated axons and occasional synaptic terminals were also immunostained. These data indicate that IAA-RP contributes to the neurochemical phenotype of many neuronal populations and further supports our suggestion that, in autonomic structures, IAA-RP may serve as a chemical mediator in complex circuits involved in blood pressure regulation and, more generally, sympathetic drive.