Silver-enhanced liposome-entrapped colloidal gold was developed for light microscopic localization of liposomes. Preparation of colloidal gold entrapped in liposomes was achieved by a modified method of Hong, et al. (1983) Biochim. Biophys. Acta 732, 320-323). In this report, a gold chloride/citrate solution of low pH (3.4) was used to inhibit the formation of gold granules during the liposome preparation. The diameter of most liposomes ranged from 80 to 100 nm. Following liposome preparation, the pH was adjusted to 6, and the temperature increased to 55 degrees C. The majority of the liposomes contained one to three gold particles. Liposomes were injected into mice via tail vein; 24 h later, tissues were collected. Sections were processed for silver enhancement of the gold particles and examined by light microscopy. Silver-enhanced gold particles were clearly observed in both liver and implanted tumor. Localization was confirmed by electron and fluorescence microscopy. Thus, we have shown that silver enhancement of colloidal gold liposomes is a direct and sensitive method for tracing the fate of liposomes in vivo, providing minimal background interference and a good definition of various cell types.