Monoclonal antibodies produced against rat small intestinal mucins were utilized to study variability of stored mucin granules within rat ileal goblet cells. Eleven antibody-secreting hybridoma cultures were produced; six of these uniformly labeled stored mucin granules in virtually all goblet cells, suggesting that some antigenic features are common to all granules. The other five stained goblet cells in the rat small intestinal epithelium nonuniformly. R803, R805, and R807 localized within almost all goblet cells but revealed differential labeling of centrally and peripherally located mucin granules. R804 uniformly labeled the mucin granules of most villous goblet cells; some of the crypt goblet cells were uniformly labeled, but the majority were only partially labeled, resulting in a mottled staining pattern. R808 stained only a small portion of crypt goblet cells; there is, however, an increase in both number of goblet cells labeled and in uniformity of staining of the stored granule mass from the base of the crypt to the surface, resulting in uniform labeling of virtually all goblet cells at the villus tip. This study demonstrates for the first time that rat small intestinal mucin granules are immunologically heterogeneous and nonuniformly distributed within the epithelium. Additionally, staining patterns within the stored granule mass suggest that structurally distinct subpopulations of mucin granules may exist within a single goblet cell.