Biotinylated rat satellite DNA I probe p93-50 was used to visualize the chromatin of surface-spread rat pachytene chromosomes. Fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-conjugated avidin produces a beaded fluorescence pattern along the chromatin loops that insert in the centromeric region of the synaptonemal complex (SC), the paired cores of homologous chromosomes. The number of fluorescent beads ranges from zero for centromeres without satellite DNA I homologous to probe p93-50, to several hundred for satellite-rich centromeric regions. For the chromosomes that can be identified, the relative amount of satellite DNA is chromosome specific. No satellite DNA I was detected at the non-centromeric ends of the chromosomes or interstitially. DNase-digested nuclei or isolated SCs did not have detectable amounts of satellite DNA in the centromeric regions of the chromosomes or in the residual SCs. The fate of the satellite DNA was followed during spermiogenesis. In the round spermatid the centromeric regions, which appear to be attached to the nuclear envelope, are still distinct and have converging loops of fluorescent chromatin. At later stages there are fewer but still bright fluorescent patches. Satellite DNA I is still detectable in the mature sperm head. These results demonstrate the organization of satellite DNA I in the chromatin loops at the centromeric regions, and they forecast the analysis of chromosome organization in unprecedented detail with a variety of probes in surface spreads of meiotic prophase chromosomes.