The influence of sulphation of mucus glycoproteins in the binding of peanut agglutinin (PNA) to tissue sections has been investigated by means of histochemical techniques at the light- and electron-microscopic level. A sequential methylation-saponification procedure was applied for the desulphation of tissue samples. Labelling by peroxidase- and colloidal gold-conjugated PNA was compared in control and desulphated samples of rat intestinal mucosa. The high-iron-diamine (HID) technique was used as a control for the effectiveness of the desulphation technique, and the Alcian Blue, pH 2.5 (AB 2.5), PAS and phosphotungstic acid-HCl (acid-PTA) techniques served as controls for the integrity of the oligosaccharide chains, respectively. In general, a marked increase of PNA reactivity was observed in desulphated samples when compared with control sections. These findings indicate that sulphation of galactose inhibits the binding of PNA to carbohydrate moieties in tissue sections. Staining patterns obtained with HID, PNA and the desulphation-PNA sequence in the goblet cells of the large intestine suggest a modification of the secretory product stored in these cells as the cell matures and moves from the lower crypt region toward the luminal surface. These modifications were not detected in the small intestine. Ultrastructural detection of PNA-binding sites suggests that galactose residues are incorporated into the oligosaccharide chains of O-linked glycoproteins at the medial cisternae of the Golgi apparatus. However, sulphation occurs at the trans side of the Golgi complex and the trans Golgi network. In conclusion, desulphation procedures are useful for revealing PNA-binding sites.