Polyclonal antibodies against specific carboxy-terminal sequences of known alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate (AMPA) receptor subunits (GluR-4) were used to screen regional homogenates and subcellular fractions from rat brain. Affinity purified anti-GluR1 (against amino acids 877-899), anti-GluR2/3 (850-862), and anti-GluR4a and anti-GluR4b (868-881) labeled distinct subunits with the expected molecular weight of approximately 105,000. These antigens were shown to have distinct distributions in the brain. While GluR2/3 epitopes had a distribution profile similar to that of the presynaptic marker synaptophysin, GluR1 was notable for its abundance in the hippocampus and its relatively low density in neocortical areas, and GluR4 was highly enriched in cerebellar tissue. An additional antigen (glutamate receptor-related, GR53) of lower molecular weight (50,000-59,000) was recognized in rat, human, frog, chick and goldfish brain samples by anti-GluR4a as well as by anti-GluR1 at, an antibody that specifically recognizes the extracellular aminoterminal domain of GluR1 (amino acids 163-188). Both antibodies also labeled antigens of approximately 105,000 mol. wt in brain tissue from all species tested. The approximately 53,000 mol. wt antigen was concentrated 10-20-fold in synaptic membranes vs homogenates across rat brain regions. Both the 105,000 and the 53,000 mol. wt proteins were also concentrated in postsynaptic densities, and neither of the two antigens were evident in seven non-brain tissue samples. These data indicate that AMPA receptors have regionally different subunit combinations and that some AMPA receptor composites include proteins other than the conventional 105,000 mol. wt GluR subunits.