Following our recent cloning of a novel gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor subunit gene Resistance to dieldrin or Rdl form cyclodiene resistance locus in Drosophila melanogaster, we were interested in defining its pattern of expression during development. Here we report the raising of an anti-Rdl polyclonal antibody that recognizes a single protein of the expected 65 kDa size in immunoblots of Drosophila head homogenates. In situ hybridization using Rdl cDNA probes and the anti-Rdl antibody shows that Rdl message and protein are highly expressed in the developing central nervous system (CNS) of 15-17 h embryos. Interestingly, despite the use of GABA in both the peripheral and CNS of insects, Rdl GABA receptor subunits appear to be confined to the CNS. Detailed immunocytochemistry of Drosophila brain sections showed particularly strong anti-Rdl antibody staining in the optic lobes, ellipsoid body, fan shaped body, ventrolateral protocerebrum and the glomeruli of the antennal lobes. Results are compared with the distribution of staining observed in the insect CNS with antibodies against GABA itself and synaptotagmin, a synaptic vesicle protein.