The distribution of phenylethanolamine N-methlytransferase-immunoreactive nerve cell bodies was investigated in the rat medulla using an antiserum to bovine phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase raised in rabbits. A procedure that combines immunohistochemistry and catecholamine fluorescence histochemistry was developed with a formaldehyde/glutaraldehyde mixture as a fixative. Three groups of immunoreactive nerve cell bodies were found in the medulla: a ventrolateral group, C1, a dorsal group, C2, in the nucleus of the tractus solitarius and a smaller medial group of cells, C3, scattered in the medial longitudinal fasciculus. Most of the phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase positive nerve cells did not show catecholamine fluorescence and did not correspond to the catecholamine cell groups A1 and A2. Both groups C1 and C2 of immunoreactive nerve cells extended further rostrally than A1 and A2. Group C3 has not previously been described as a distinct group of catecholamine fluorescent nerve cell bodies. Inhibition of phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase and monoamine oxidase results in the appearance of catecholamine fluorescence in the immunoreactive cell bodies suggesting that they usually store adrenaline which reacts poorly with the formaldehyde/glutaraldehyde mixture or other aldehydes which induce catecholamine fluorescence and it is for this reason that they are not normally identified in maps of catecholamine fluorescent cells.