The rodent protein RC3 is expressed mainly by forebrain neurons during postnatal development and maturity. RC3 and its bovine homolog neurogranin/B-50 immunoreactive C-kinase substrate (BICKS) contain overlapping sites for protein kinase C phosphorylation and calmodulin binding that resemble those of the presynaptic 43-kDa growth-associated protein (GAP-43). However, morphological evidence suggests that RC3 has a postsynaptic localization. To test this hypothesis, we used two polyclonal antisera against synthetic peptides corresponding to nonoverlapping sequences within RC3 and compared cellular distributions of their binding in neostriatum of adult rats by immunohistochemistry, Golgi impregnation/gold toning, and correlative light/electron microscopy. Somatic and punctate patterns of RC3 immunoreactivity were observed. Somatic RC3 was found in cyto- and nucleoplasmic compartments of all neuronal phenotypes (medium spiny, medium aspiny, and large aspiny cells). Punctate RC3 was found mostly in dendritic spines. In contrast to the 43-kDa growth-associated protein, RC3 was seen infrequently in axons. We conclude that RC3 accumulates postsynaptically in dendritic spines of neostriatal neurons. We propose that RC3 acts as a "third messenger" substrate of protein kinase C-mediated molecular cascades during synaptic development and remodeling.