The localization of the nine identified isoforms of adenylyl cyclase in brain has been largely based on determination of patterns of mRNA expression. A polyclonal antibody has now been developed that specifically recognizes Type VII adenylyl cyclase. This antibody was used for immunocytochemical analysis of the distribution of Type VII adenylyl cyclase in rat brain. Labeling of Type VII adenylyl cyclase was observed in several areas, including cerebellum, caudate-putamen, nucleus accumbens, hippocampus and cerebral cortex. In some of these areas, the staining of the adenylyl cyclase protein suggested the possibility of presynaptic localization. For example, in situ hybridization showed Type VII adenylyl cyclase mRNA concentrated in cerebellar granule neurons. The cerebellar granule cell layer, however, showed little immunostaining, while punctate immunostaining was observed in the molecular layer. These results suggested that protein synthesized in the granule neurons may be targeted to the neuron terminals. Punctate staining in the caudate-putamen, globus pallidus and nucleus accumbens also suggested the possibility of axonal and/or dendritic localization of Type VII adenylyl cyclase in these regions. Labeling of the soma of cerebellar Purkinje cells, cortical pyramidal and non-pyramidal cells and interneurons in the cerebellum and hippocampus was also observed. Type VII adenylyl cyclase, like the other adenylyl cyclase isoforms, has distinct regulatory characteristics, including sensitivity to stimulation by Gsalpha and G protein betagamma subunits, modulation by protein kinase C, and high sensitivity to stimulation by ethanol. These characteristics, and the discrete localization of this enzyme, may contribute to its ability to provide signal integration and/or control of neurotransmitter release in particular neurons or brain areas.