Localization of catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) in rat cerebral cortex, neostriatum and cerebellar cortex was studied with pre-embedding immunoelectron microscopy using a specific antiserum raised against rat recombinant COMT protein. In all areas, immunoreactivity was found both in astrocytes and in neuronal processes. Reaction product was seen in the cytoplasm and in association with tubular structures of dendritic processes. Immunoreactivity was also located postsynaptically in dendritic spines and associated with the postsynaptic membrane. Strong immunoreaction was also seen in the cytoplasm of ependymal cells lining the ventricles, and in tanycytes in median eminence. The results suggest that postsynaptic dendritic spines and astrocytic processes may be the sites of catecholamine inactivation by COMT in rat brain.