We used isolated IgG antibodies selective for P2X3 receptors to study the ultrastructural distribution of these receptors in rat sensory neurons. In trigeminal ganglia, P2X3 receptor immunoreactivity occurred in small and large nerve cell bodies and their processes. Endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus were heavily stained; cytoplasmic matrix was faintly to moderately stained. In synaptic glomeruli in lamina II of cervical dorsal horn, P2X3 receptor-immunoreactive core terminals were postsynaptic to unlabelled vesicle-containing dendrites and axons. In the nucleus of the solitary tract, receptor-positive boutons synapsed on dendrites and cell bodies and had complex synaptic relationships with other axon terminals and vesiculated dendrites. These observations identify sites from which ATP could be released to influence sensory signalling within the central nervous system.