Administration of hepatotoxic doses of acetaminophen (APAP) to mice results in necrosis, not only of liver cells but of renal proximal tubules and bronchiolar and olfactory epithelium. In the liver, covalent binding is localized to the centrilobular hepatocytes which later undergo necrosis. This study was undertaken to compare the cellular distribution of bound APAP in all four major target tissues with that of cytochrome P4502E1 (a P450 isoenzyme commonly associated with APAP bioactivation), with emphasis on the cell types which later undergo necrosis. Tissues were collected from mice at selected times after APAP administration (600 mg/kg, po) and fixed by microwave irradiation for immunohistochemistry, or in formalin for histopathological study. Immunohistochemical localization of bound APAP was performed on 5-microns paraffin sections using an affinity-purified anti-APAP antibody. Similar tissues from naive mice were used for immunohistochemical localization of cytochrome P4502E1 (using a polyclonal sheep anti-P4502E1 antibody). Positive staining with both the anti-APAP and the anti-P4502E1 antibodies was similar in distribution, being present in the cell types which become damaged by APAP in all four target tissues. These results demonstrate that covalent binding and subsequent necrosis are localized in common with cytochrome P4502E1, suggesting that, as in the liver, toxicity in extrahepatic targets is also related to the ability of these tissues to activate APAP in situ.