Pre-embedding immunoperoxidase staining for CAM II kinase-alpha and post-embedding immunogold staining for glutamate and GABA, were used to reveal the subcellular distribution of CAM II kinase-alpha at transmitter-characterized synapses in the CA1 region of rat hippocampus. Immunoelectron microscopy showed that the majority of CAM II kinase-alpha-immunostained neuronal profiles were dendritic spines presumably derived from pyramidal cells. CAM II kinase-alpha immunoreactivity was mainly localized in postsynatic densities associated with glutamatergic axon terminals. No CAM II kinase-alpha immunoreactivity was detected in GABA-immunoreactive profiles or at GABAergic synapses. This study provides morphological evidence that CAM II kinase-alpha is involved only in excitatory neuronal transmission in the CA1 region. The enzyme is unlikely to be involved in plasticity at GABA synapses.