Postembedding immunocytochemistry was used to determine the cellular localization of the amino acid neurotransmitters glutamate, aspartate, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and glycine in the avian retina. The through retinal pathway was glutamatergic, with all photoreceptors, bipolar cells, and ganglion cells being immunoreactive for glutamate. Bipolar cells displayed the highest level of glutamate immunoreactivity, with the cell bodies terminating just below the middle of the inner nuclear layer. All lateral elements, horizontal cells, amacrine cells, and interplexiform cells were immunoreactive for glycine or GABA. The GABAergic neurons consisted of two classes of horizontal cells and amacrine cells located in the lower part of the inner nuclear layer. GABA was also localized in displaced amacrine cells in the ganglion cell layer, and a population of ganglion cells that co-localize glutamate and GABA. Both the horizontal cells and GABAergic amacrine cells had high levels of glutamate immunoreactivity, which probably reflects a metabolic pool. At least two types of horizontal cells in the avian retina could be discriminated on the basis of the presence of aspartate immunoreactivity in the H2 horizontal cells. Glycine was contained in a subclass of amacrine cells, with their cell bodies located between the bipolar cells and GABAergic amacrine cells, two subclasses of bipolar cells, displaced amacrine cells in the ganglion cell layer, and ganglion cells that colocalize glutamate and glycine. Glycinergic amacrine cells had low levels of glutamate. We have also identified a new class of glycinergic interplexiform cell, with its stellate cell body located in the middle of the inner nuclear layer among the cell bodies of bipolar cells. Neurochemical signatures obtained by analyzing data from serial sections allowed the classification of subclasses of horizontal cells, bipolar cells, amacrine cells, and ganglion cells. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.