The distribution of angiotensinogen-like immunoreactivity in the rat brain was investigated using specific antisera against pure rat plasma angiotensinogen in conjunction with the sensitive streptavidin-biotin peroxidase method. Angiotensinogen antisera were shown by radioimmunoassay and Western blotting to recognize angiotensinogen from both rat plasma and cerebrospinal fluid, and to cross-react with des-AI-angiotensinogen (100%) but not with angiotensin I and II, tetradecapeptide, luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone, rat albumin and angiotensinogen from eight other species. Angiotensinogen-like immunoreactivity was detected throughout the rat brain in both neuroglia and neurons. The highest concentration of neuroglial angiotensinogen-like immunoreactivity was in the hypothalamus and preoptic areas, with moderate to heavy concentrations in the mesencephalon and myelencephalon. The cerebellum demonstrated neuroglial staining in the granular layer and fibre tracts. Very little neuroglial staining was noted in the cerebral cortex or olfactory bulbs. Neuronal immunostaining was observed throughout the globus pallidus and the caudate putamen, in various parts of the thalamus and the supraoptic nucleus of the hypothalamus. In the midbrain moderate immunostaining was observed in periaquaductal central gray, the deep mesencephalic nucleus, the inferior colliculus and in scattered cells in the anterior mesencephalon. In the medulla, neuronal staining was localized to the vestibular nuclei and to other cell bodies mainly in the dorsolateral regions. In the cerebellum, staining was noted mainly in the deeper cerebellar nuclei and in the Purkinje cells. Immunostaining in the cerebral cortex was localized to the cingulate cortex and the primary olfactory cortex. Light staining was present in the endopiriform cortex and in scattered neurons adjacent to the external capsule. In the olfactory bulbs light neuronal staining was mainly associated with the mitral cell layer. The widespread distribution of angiotensinogen-like immunoreactivity supports the view that it is synthesized in the central nervous system and forms part of a brain renin-angiotensin system. In addition, its presence at sites other than those normally associated with the control of blood pressure and fluid and electrolyte homeostasis suggests that its involvement may not be limited to these regulatory functions.