Morphological features indicating occurrence of two types of extrasynaptic chemical transmission were observed within rat basal ganglia. (1) Striatonigral neurons containing substance P (SP) sent many axon collaterals equipped with axonal varicosities to the striatum: the varicosities displayed synaptophysin-like immunoreactivity (-LI). However, only 15% of the varicosities appeared to be in close contact with structures showing SP receptor (SPR)-LI. Many of axon terminals of striatonigral neurons were confirmed electron microscopically not to be in synaptic contact with SPR-like immunoreactive structures within the striatum. SP released from the varicosities might, at least partly, diffuse to reach SPR at distance from the release sites. (2) Immunoreactivities for metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) 4 a, 7 a, 7 b and 8 were in axon terminals within the globus pallidus (external segment of the globus pallidus in primates). The immunoreactivities disappeared after destruction of the striatum, but not after destruction of the subthalamic nucleus. The immunoreactivity for mGluR 7 a was confirmed electron microscopically to be within axon terminals showing glutamic acid decarboxylase-LI. Glutamate released from glutamatergic subthalamopallidal neurons might partly spilled over from the synaptic sites to reach mGluRs on "nearby" axon terminals of GABAergic striatopallidal neurons. Functional significance of thalamostriatal and corticosubthalamic fibers was also discussed.