The localization of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subunit NR2A was studied, by using light microscopic immunocytochemistry, in the retina of adult rat, rabbit, cat, and monkey. Strong, punctate immunolabeling was observed in the inner plexiform layer indicating a synaptic localization of the NR2A subunit. The punctate labeling was concentrated in two bands corresponding to the on- and off-sublaminae of the inner plexiform layer. The punctate character of immunofluorescence suggested a synaptic localization of the receptor. This was confirmed by electron microscopy of immunostained adult rat retina. The staining was localized postsynaptic to cone bipolar cells, and only one of the two postsynaptic elements of the dyad was labeled. Staining was not observed at extrasynaptic plasma membranes. In situ hybridization of adult rat retina showed expression of the NR2A subunit in virtually all ganglion cells and displaced amacrine cells in the ganglion cell layer and in a subset of amacrine cells in the inner nuclear layer. The postnatal developmental expression of the NR2A subunit was studied in rat retina by light microscopic immunocytochemistry. Punctate immunolabeling appeared prior to eye opening, and the developmental profile of NR2A could be compatible with a role in development of circuitry in the inner plexiform layer.