Readouts that define the physiological distributions of drugs in tissues are an unmet challenge and at best imprecise, but are needed in order to understand both the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties associated with efficacy. Here we demonstrate that it is feasible to follow the in vivo transport of unlabeled drugs within specific organ and tissue compartments on a platform that applies MALDI imaging mass spectrometry to tissue sections characterized with high definition histology. We have tracked and quantified the distribution of an inhaled reference compound, tiotropium, within the lungs of dosed rats, using systematic point by point MS and MS/MS sampling at 200 mu m intervals. By comparing drug ion distribution patterns in adjacent tissue sections, we observed that within 15 min following exposure, tiotropium parent MS ions (mass-to-charge; m/z 392.1) and fragmented daughter MS/MS ions (m/z 170.1 and 152.1) were dispersed in a concentration gradient (80 fmol-5 pmol) away from the central airways into the lung parenchyma and pleura. These drug levels agreed well with amounts detected in lung compartments by chemical extraction. Moreover, the simultaneous global definition of molecular ion signatures localized within 2-D tissue space provides accurate assignment of ion identities within histological landmarks, providing context to dynamic biological processes occurring at sites of drug presence. Our results highlight an important emerging technology allowing specific high resolution identification of unlabeled drugs at sites of in vivo uptake and retention.