The distribution of rat corticostrial axons in the patch (striosome) and matrix compartments of the neostriatum was studied by using axonal labeling with biotinylated dextran amine (BDA) and identifying patch and matrix in the same section with calbindin immunocytochemistry. Small injections of BDA were made in the anterior cingulate, medial agranular, lateral agranular, or somatosensory cortex. Each area projected to both the patch and matrix compartments, except for the somatosensory cortex, which had only matrix projections. Within the remaining cortical areas, injections in layers Vb and VI preferentially labeled axons in patches whereas injections in layers III-Va preferentially labeled matrix axons. Axons from these injections formed varicosities preferentially, but not exclusively, in one compartment. There was a population of axons that crossed compartmental boundaries and arborized in both patch and matrix. Two distinct patterns of corticostriatal axonal arborizations were observed. Small, discrete foci of innervation were seen in the patch compartment and in some regions of the matrix. The focal arborizations in the matrix were observed through the rostrocaudal extent of the neostriatum but were most obvious in the caudal one-third. They resembled the matrisomes observed in cat and primate corticostriatal projections. The second pattern of innervation consisted of extended axonal arborizations that covered large regions of the rostral neostriatal matrix. These results support the concept of multiple classes of corticostriatal neurons having different targets within the neostriatum, following different topographical rules, and having different but overlapping distributions across cortical areas.