Electrophysiological studies have demonstrated that gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors type A (GABA(A)) mediate important information processing in the retinas of salamander and other vertebrates. The pharmacology and physiology of GABA(A) receptors depend on their subunit composition. We studied the localization of GABA(A) receptor subunit isoforms alpha(1), alpha(3), beta(1), beta(2/3) (antibody BD-17 and 62-3G1), gamma(1), and gamma(2) in salamander retina with immunocytochemical methods. All three beta-subunit antibodies labeled similarly in the outer retina, especially the inner segments and synaptic terminals of rod photoreceptors (identified with protein kinase C). Somatic labeling was observed in cell bodies of some horizontal cells, bipolar cells, amacrine cells, and cells in the ganglion cell layer (GCL). Puncta were present throughout the inner plexiform layer (IPL) for beta(1) and 62-3G1, but not for BD-17. alpha(1)-immunoreactivity (IR) stained a population of presumed OFF rod-dominated bipolar cells, including dendrites, soma, and axon terminals in the distal IPL. A subtype of GABAergic amacrine cell also expressed alpha(1)-IR, with puncta sparsely distributed at the distal and proximal margins of the IPL. Both the OPL and IPL were labeled throughout for alpha(3)-IR, as opposed to the narrow distribution of alpha(1)-IR in the IPL, suggesting that the two alpha-subunits are localized at different synaptic sites. Punctate gamma(1)-IR was observed in the OPL and IPL, whereas gamma(2) was most prominent in cone photoreceptors (identified with calbindin), including the terminal telodendria, in cell bodies of some horizontal cells, amacrine cells, cells in the GCL, and less intensely in the IPL. In addition, several subunits were present in Müller cells. The differential labeling suggests the existence of GABA(A) receptor subtypes with different subunit compositions that mediate multiple GABAergic functions in salamander retina.