The adrenal gland of the rat was analysed with immunohistochemistry and antisera to neuropeptide tyrosine, to the catecholamine-synthesizing enzymes tyrosine hydroxylase, phenyl-ethanolamine-N-methyltransferase, and to acetylcholinesterase and with in situ hybridization using a nick-translated 280 base pair deoxyribonucleic acid probe coding for exon 2 of the rat neuropeptide tyrosine gene. Neuropeptide tyrosine-like immunoreactivity was observed in three structures: chromaffin cells, medullary ganglion cells and nerve fibers. The chromaffin cells were of both the noradrenaline- and adrenaline-type. The ganglion cells did not seem to contain any catecholamine-synthesizing enzymes but exhibited a strong immunoreaction for acetylcholinesterase. They were thus in all probability cholinergic neurons. In situ hybridization using the nick-translated deoxyribonucleic acid probe to rat neuropeptide tyrosine messenger ribonucleic acid revealed a very high-grain density over the ganglion cells, a moderate density over the chromaffin cells and a low background over cortex, in agreement with the immuno-histochemical demonstration of neuropeptide tyrosine-like immunoreactivity both in chromaffin and ganglion cells. The intense neuropeptide tyrosine-like immunoreactivity and low content of neuropeptide tyrosine messenger ribonucleic acid suggest that the chromaffin cells have fairly large peptide stores but that the peptide turnover is low. In contrast, the ganglion cell bodies seem to contain low amounts of neuropeptide tyrosine-like immunoreactivity but exhibit a high neuropeptide tyrosine synthesis rate. Preliminary studies with the amine-depleting drug reserpine revealed an increase in messenger ribonucleic acid both in ganglion cells and medullary cells. In the chromaffin cells the highest activity was seen 3 and 4 days after injection, and the levels were down to normal after 8 days. The present findings demonstrate neuropeptide tyrosine synthesis and storage in two cell populations in the adrenal medulla. In situ hybridization with its cellular resolution can provide information on possible differential effects of drugs and experimental procedures on these two neuropeptide tyrosine stores.