We examined the suitability of freeze-substitution and Lowicryl HM20 embedding of aldehyde-fixed rat brain to localize several neural antigens at the ultrastructural level. The following rabbit polyclonal and mouse monoclonal antibodies were used: affinity-purified polyclonal immunoglobulins G raised to B-50/GAP43 (a membrane-anchored, growth-associated protein); affinity-purified polyclonal immunoglobulins G to human glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP; a subunit of glial filaments); a polyclonal antiserum raised to adrenocorticotropic hormone[25-39] (a neuropeptide present in dense-core granules); a polyclonal antiserum raised to myelin basic protein (a protein present in compact myelin of the central nervous system); and mouse monoclonal antibodies to synaptophysin (an integral membrane protein of small synaptic vesicles). Rat mesencephalon was fixed by perfusion with buffered 2% glutaraldehyde and 4% paraformaldehyde, cryoprotected, and frozen in liquid nitrogen. Freeze-substitution of tissue was performed with anhydrous methanol and 0.5% uranyl acetate at -90 degrees C. Semi-thin Lowicryl sections were used for light microscopic visualization of B-50 in the ventromedial mesencephalic central gray substance. The procedure preserves well the ultrastructure of this region and the immunoreactivity of the selected antigens. This study shows that dehydration by freeze-substitution, combined with Lowicryl HM20 embedding at sub-zero temperature, provides a successful method of preparation of fixed brain tissue for ultrastructural studies, allowing immunogold localization of several neural antigens by double labeling in the same section and in serial sections.