The neurochemical division of the rodent nucleus accumbens into shell and core is now a widely accepted concept. However, such divisions in the primate nucleus accumbens have yet to be fully clarified and described. In the present study, the forebrains of three primates--marmoset, rhesus monkey, and human--and a Wistar rat, were immunoreacted with antibodies directed against calbindin-D28k. The patterns of immunoreactivity in the primates' ventral striatum were mapped and compared to that of rat. Calbindin staining was uneven in all species and there was no evidence of a bicompartmental organization, i.e., striosome/patch and matrix, in central parts of the nucleus. Nucleus accumbens in primates, as in rat, could be divided immunohistochemically into a crescent-shaped outer shell--medially, ventrally and laterally--and an inner core. In general, medial parts of the shell stained less intensely for calbindin than did lateral parts. However, interspecific variation in the intensity of the immunoreactive staining and the mediolateral extent of the shell was obvious. The core, which immunostained unevenly, was consistently more intensely immunoreactive than either medial or lateral shell in all species except the marmoset. These results suggest that the neurochemical subdivisions of shell and core established for nucleus accumbens of rodents are also present in primates. However, further work is needed to establish whether these territories are homologous and, if so, the full extent of that homology.