Attempts to investigate the cellular localization of keratin mRNAs by in situ hybridization with specific [35S]-labelled cDNA probes to mouse epithelia have been seriously impeded by the uncontrollable detachment of frozen tissue sections on conventionally coated glass slides (i.e. those coated with egg white, gelatin, collagen). Similarly, a variety of other coating and attachment devices have proved to be unsatisfactory or impracticable for large scale investigations. These difficulties were completely overcome and in situ hybridization was possible after a short immersion of the glass slides in a 2% solution of 3-aminopropyltriethoxysilane in acetone. This treatment provides the glass surface with aminoalkyl groups which are apparently able to react covalently with aldehyde or ketone functions of frozen tissue sections. The resulting firm adhesion of the sections enabled us to investigate the influence of different fixation and prehybridization procedures on the quality of the in situ hybridization. It was found that especially harsh prehybridization, involving hydrochloric acid, heat and proteinase K treatment, drastically reduces the morphological integrity of the sections, thus rendering a reliable assignment of the label difficult. In contrast, a mild prehybridization, consisting mainly of a rehydration of the sections in phosphate-buffered saline and equilibration in 0.1 M glycine, leaves the morphology intact and leads to a highly efficient and specific in situ hybridization.