Scanning and transmission electron microscopy of the antennae of Culicoides impunctatus and Culicoides nubeculosus show that males and females share five sensillum types. Sensilla chaetica resemble mechanoreceptors, each innervated by a single neurone whose dendrite terminates distally in a tubular body: the arrangement of sensilla on male antennae suggests that females are located by sound. The antennae have both sharp- and blunt-tipped sensilla trichodea, sharp-tipped sensilla on only the distal third and blunttipped sensilla on all subsegments. These sensilla are typical of olfactory receptors, having multiporous walls and being innervated by a number of neurones with bifurcating dendrites ascending the hair shafts. Sensilla basiconica occur on the distal five subsegments of the female antenna and the distal three subsegments of the male antenna. Sensilla coeloconica always occur on subsegment one and sometimes on a number of other subsegments, depending on sex and species. Both basiconic and coeloconic sensilla have double walls and unbranched dendrites and may be either olfactory or thermo- and/or hygroreceptors. All antennae except those of male C. impunctatus antennae have sensilla ampullacea, apparently deep-seated olfactory or thermoreceptors. Small peg sensilla fitting the description of contact chemoreceptors occur only at the tip of the male antenna. © 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.