The cellular and subcellular localizations of the AE2 anion exchanger in rat kidney have remained elusive despite detection of moderately abundant AE2 mRNA and AE2 polypeptide in all kidney regions. In this report a simple epitope unmasking technique has allowed the immunolocalization of AE2 antigenic sites in basolateral membranes of several rat kidney tubular epithelial cells. AE2 immunostaining was faint or absent in the glomerulus and proximal tubule, present in descending and ascending thin limbs, and stronger in the medullary thick ascending limb (MTAL). A lower staining intensity was found in cortical thick ascending limbs and even less in the distal convoluted tubule. In contrast, there was an enhanced staining in the macula densa. In principal cells (PC) of the connecting segment, AE2 was undetectable but gradually increased in intensity along the collecting duct, with strongest staining in inner medullary collecting duct (IMCD) PC. A sodium dodecyl sulfate-sensitive AE2-related Golgi epitope was also detected in some interstitial and endothelial cells of the inner medulla and in epithelial cells of IMCD and MTAL. Colchicine treatment of the intact animal altered the distribution of this Golgi-associated epitope but left plasmalemmal AE2 undisturbed. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction detected AE2a, AE2b, and AE2c2 but not AE2cl transcripts in rat kidney mRNA. The results suggest a widespread occurrence of the AE2 protein in several renal epithelial cell types.