Using antisera generated in rabbits against salmon melanin concentrating hormone (MCH) coupled to human thyroglobulin, the distribution of MCH-like immunoreactivity was mapped throughout the rat central nervous system. The distribution of MCH-like immunoreactivity in rat brain is unique and different from the distribution of other neuropeptides. MCH-like immunoreactive perikarya and fibers are predominant in the posterior hypothalamic area, mostly in the medial forebrain bundle-lateral hypothalamic area subzona incerta and the perifornical area. Cell bodies are located mainly in the medial forebrain bundle and in proximity to well defined hypothalamic nuclei. Fibers are seen throughout the rat brain in all neocortical areas, the neostriatum and the amygdala, in the diencephalon in most hypothalamic nuclei, the habenula, the mamillary body and very dense in the medial forebrain bundle and just ventral to the zona incerta ("subzona incerta"). In the mesencephalon there are fibers in the central gray; in the pons-medulla fibers are contained in the dorsal and ventral parabrachial nuclei; in the tegmental area ventral to the fourth ventricle; in the spinal trigeminal area, the substantia gelatinosa and the reticular nuclei. In the spinal cord there are more fibers in the dorsal than in the ventral horn. The posterior pituitary also contained few MCH-like fibers. It is suggested that a peptide similar, but not identical, to salmon MCH is present in the rat central nervous system.