Inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) receptors (IP3Rs) serve as intracellular calcium release channels involved in signal transduction of various hormones in the kidney. Molecular cloning studies have shown that there are three types of IP3R, designated type 1, type 2, and type 3. To characterize their localizations in the rat kidney, we employed immunohistochemical studies using type-specific monoclonal antibodies that were raised against the 15 C-terminal amino acids of each type of IP3R. Type 1 was detected in glomerular mesangial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells. Type 2 was expressed exclusively in intercalated cells of collecting ducts from the cortex to the inner medulla. Type 3 was expressed in vascular smooth muscle cells, glomerular mesangial cells, and some cells of cortical collecting ducts, probably principal cells. As to the subcellular distribution, type 1 and type 2 showed a homogenous distribution in the cytoplasm, whereas type 3 was present mainly in the basolateral portion of the cytoplasm. These results indicate that IP3R isoforms were expressed in a cell-specific manner. The heterogeneous subcellular localizations among the IP3R types suggests compartmentalization of distinct IP3-sensitive Ca2+ pools.