Antibodies prepared to purified brain glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), the synthesizing enzyme for the neurotrasmitter, γ-aminobutyric, acid (GABA), have been utilized with an unlabelled antibody method to localize GABAergic neurones in both light and electron microscopic preparations. A modification of Sternberger's peroxidase-antiperoxidase (PAP) complex is used to localize the site of anti-GAD binding, and the PAP complex is visualized with diaminobenzidine and H2O2. The reaction product is visible in both the light and electron microscopes. The ability to localize and identify labelled profiles in the electron microscope provides more functional information than light microscopical preparations. For example, the GAD-positive reaction product occurs mostly in association with synaptic vesicles within axon terminats, and this localization indicates the importance of GAD for the packaging and storage of GABA. The somata and dendrites of neurones giving rise to these terminals are visualized in colchicine-injected material. The GABAergic neurones form axo-somatic, axo-dendritic, axo-axonal and dendro-dendritic synapses in various regions of the rat central nervous system. Pretreatments of animals with anterograde degeneration have shown the significance of some of the GABAergic terminals that form axo-axonal synapses in the spinal cord. An many brain regions, such as the cerebral cortex, hippocampus and olfactory bulb, virtually all of the GABAergic synapses are derived from local circuit neurones. In other regions such as the cerebellum and neostriatum, the GABAergic terminals are derived from both local circuit neurones and the local axon collaterals of projection neurones that have their somata within these regions. A third type of configuration of GABAergic terminals occurs in the globus pallidus and substantia nigra where these terminals are derived from distant brain regions, axon collaterals of projection neurones and from local circuit neurones. Together, these results indicate the complex organization of the GABAergic system of the brain that has been vividly revealed with electron in croscopical immunocytochemistry. © 1981 Chapman and Hall Ltd.