Several studies have indicated that olfactory responses are impeded by amiloride. Therefore, it was of interest to see whether, and if so which, olfactory epithelial cellular compartments have amiloride-sensitive structures. Using ultrastructural methods that involved rapid freezing, freeze-substitution and low temperature embedding of olfactory epithelia, this study shows that, in the rat, this tissue is immunoreactive to antibodies against amiloride sensitive Na(+)-channels. However, microvilli of olfactory supporting cells, as opposed to receptor cilia, contained most of the immunoreactive sites. Apices from which the microvilli sprout and receptor cell dendritic knobs had much less if any of the amiloride-antibody binding sites. Using a direct ligand-binding cytochemical method, this study also confirms earlier ones that showed that olfactory receptor cell cilia have Na+, K(+)-ATPase. It is proposed that supporting cell microvilli and the receptor cilia themselves have mechanisms, different but likely complementary, that participate in regulating the salt concentration around the receptor cell cilia. In this way, both structures help to provide the ambient mucous environment for receptor cells to function properly. This regulation of the salt concentration of an ambient fluid environment is a function that the olfactory epithelium shares with cells of transporting epithelia, such as those of kidney.