Immunoreactivity to synapsin I, a neuronal phosphoprotein, was localized in free-floating tissue sections prepared from lingual tissue of rats. Many nerve fibers within the tissue exhibited clear immunoreactivity including motor endplates on striated muscle, autonomic fibers innervating blood vessels or glands, and sensory fibers innervating muscles or the lingual epithelium including taste buds. Numerous immunoreactive fibers occurred within each taste bud, with fewer, fine fibers being dispersed in the epithelium between taste buds. The majority of the intragemmal immunoreactive fibers extended throughout the taste buds most of the distance outward from the basal lamina toward the surface of the epithelium. Fine, perigemmal fibers reached nearly to the epithelial surface. Ultrastructural analysis of the immunoreactive sensory fibers revealed that synapsin I-immunoreactivity occurred diffusely throughout the cytoplasm, and heavily in association with microvesicles. The synaptic vesicles at the taste receptor cell-to-afferent fiber synapse were, however, not immunoreactive for synapsin I, although these vesicles fall into the size class shown to be immunoreactive in other systems. This absence of synapsin I may be a common property of vesicles in axonless short receptor cells.