We examined the cellular and subcellular localization of agmatine in the hippocampal CA1 region by immunocytochemistry. By light microscopy, agmatine-like immunoreactivity (agmatine-LI) was found primarily in the perikarya and dendritic profiles of pyramidal cells and in punctate processes preponderantly in stratum radiatum. Electron microscopy revealed that agmatine-LI was cytoplasmic and concentrated in 'clusters' associated with mitochondria and tubular vesicles. In stratum radiatum, agmatine-LI was primarily in axons and axon terminals associated with small, synaptic vesicles. The terminals almost exclusively formed asymmetric synapses on the spines of dendrites, many of which originated from pyramidal cells. Some agmatine-LI also was present in shafts and spines of pyramidal cell dendrites and in astrocytic processes. The results demonstrate that agmatine in the hippocampus is found primarily in terminals forming excitatory (asymmetric) synapses on pyramidal cells, some of which contain agmatine-LI. These findings further implicate agmatine as an endogenous neurotransmitter which may be co-stored with L-glutamate and may act in part in the rat hippocampus as a blocker of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor and nitric oxide synthase.