The polyclonal antiserum PG21 was used to detect androgen receptor (AR) protein in three motoneuronal pools of the male rat lumbar spinal cord. In gonadally intact, wild-type males, the spinal nucleus of the bulbocavernosus (SNB), dorsolateral nucleus (DLN), and retrodorsolateral nucleus (RDLN) all displayed immunolabeling of cell nuclei. The percentage of motoneurons displaying such labeling was highest in the SNB and lowest in the RDLN. This pattern of AR immunocytochemical labeling agrees well with previous steroid autoradiographic studies of androgen accumulation in the rat spinal cord. In contrast, virtually no motoneurons in any of the three pools displayed nuclear AR immunostaining in long-term gonadectomized males or in gonadally intact males carrying the Tfm mutation, which renders the AR incompetent. In gonadectomized males, labeling was restored in the SNB and DLN, but not the RDLN, 30 min after an injection of replacement testosterone. Eight hours of testosterone exposure restored immunolabeling in all three motor nuclei. Apparent cytoplasmic staining was seen in SNB motoneurons of untreated castrates and Tfm rats, but not intact rats, suggesting that AR residing in the cytoplasm translocates to the nucleus on binding to androgen in these motoneurons.