The objective of this study was to determine the cellular and subcellular distribution of small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particles (snRNPs) in the adult rat testis in relation to the different cell types at the various stages of the cycle of the seminiferous epithelium. The distribution of snRNPs in the nucleus and cytoplasm of germ cells was quantitated in an attempt to correlate RNA processing with morphological and functional changes occurring during the development of these cells. Light-microscopic immunoperoxidase staining of rat testes with polyclonal anti-Sm and monoclonal anti-Y12 antibodies localized spliceosome snRNPs in the nuclei and cytoplasm of germ cells up to step 10 spermatids. Nuclear staining was intense in Sertoli cells, spermatogonia, spermatocytes, and in the early steps of round spermatid development. Although comparatively weaker, cytoplasmic staining for snRNPs was strongest in mid and late pachytene spermatocytes and early round spermatids. Quantitative electron-microscopic immunogold labeling of Lowicryl embedded testicular sections confirmed the light-microscopic observations but additionally showed that the snRNP content peaked in the cytoplasm of midpachytene spermatocytes and in the nuclei of late pachytene spermatocytes. The immunogold label tended to aggregate into distinct loci over the nuclear chromatin. The chromatoid body of spermatids and spermatocytes and the finely granular material in the interstices of mitochondrial aggregates of spermatocytes were found to be additional sites of snRNP localization and were intensely labeled. This colocalization suggests that these dense cytoplasmic structures may be functionally related. Anti-U1 snRNP antibodies applied to frozen sections showed the same LM localization pattern as spliceosome snRNPs. Anti-U3 snRNP antibodies applied to frozen sections stained nucleoli of germ cells where pre-rRNA is spliced.