The present investigation used stable area-specific, neuronal properties instead of Nissl stain to delineate the boundaries of the nucleus hyperstriatalis caudal c (HVc) in the telencephalon of the adult male canary. Immunocytochemical procedures combined with retrograde tracing labeled a large population of perennial long-projecting neurons that contain estrogen receptors in the canary HVc. The HVc area defined by the distribution of these neurons was congruent with the HVc area defined in Nissl-stained sections during the breeding period. The HVc area defined in Nissl-stained preparations showed an extensive seasonal change in size, confirming previous results (Nottebohm: Science, 214:1368-1370, '81). In contrast, the HVc area defined by the distribution of the estrogen receptor containing long-projection neurons showed little or no seasonal change in size. Because these neurons are permanent, the HVc seems to be of rather constant size year round. The internal morphology of the HVc, however, undergoes seasonal alterations, which are reflected in changes in size of the HVc area distinguishable in Nissl-stained sections. The combination of cytoarchitectural criteria of Nissl-stained preparations with area-specific cytochemical and hodological markers to delineate the boundaries of a brain nucleus might give new insights in the partitioning and neuronal plasticity of brain areas.