X-ray microanalysis has been used to characterize the enzyme activity hydrolyzing the ATP analogue 5'-adenylylimidodiphosphate (AMP-PNP) in taste bud cells. Rabbit foliate papillae fixed with paraformaldehyde and glutaraldehyde were incubated cytochemically with AMP-PNP as the substrate and lead ion as capture agent. The reaction product which appeared on the microvilli of taste bud cells was examined using an energy dispersive X-ray microanalyzer connected to an analytical electron microscope. The X-ray spectrum thus obtained was compared with that obtained from the product obtained from the demonstration of ATPase activity. Comparison of the phosphorus/lead ratios in the two products showed that twice as much phosphorus was released from an AMP-PNP molecule by the activity in question compared with that released from an ATP molecule by ATPase activity. This indicates that the enzyme hydrolyzes AMP-PNP into AMP and imidodiphosphate and that the enzyme is adenylate cyclase or ATP pyrophosphohydrolase, which possesses a similar hydrolytic property, but not ATPase or alkaline phosphatase, which hydrolyzes AMP-PNP into ADP-NH2 and orthophosphate. This paper provides an example of the use of X-ray microanalysis as a tool for enzyme distinction. The method is applicable to a variety of enzymes and tissues.