The type and distribution of indoleamine-accumulating neurons were studied in the cat retina. The neurons were characterized by their capacity to take up an exogenous indoleamine, 5,6-dihydroxytryptamine, which could then be visualized using formaldehyde-induced fluorescence. Under direct microscopic control, intracellular injection of Lucifer yellow into the labeled cells revealed that the indoleamine-accumulating neurons comprise 2 distinct morphological types of amacrine cell and 1 class of ganglion cell. The dendritic morphology and retinal distribution of these cells were studied in detail. The proportion of retinal cells that accumulate 5-HT was measured using 5-HT (5-hydroxytryptamine) preloading in vitro and immunocytochemistry with an anti-5-HT antibody. Only 1 type of amacrine cell showed uptake of 5-HT at a concentration of 10(-7) M. Cells containing endogenous 5-HT were not detected by immunocytochemistry.