Guanylin is an endogenous mammalian ligand which binds to guanylate cyclase C (GC-C), the Escherichia coli heat-stable enterotoxin receptor. This interaction results in intestinal Cl- and fluid secretion, which is largely, if not exclusively, mediated through the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR). Using in situ hybridization, we have previously localized guanylin mRNA to villus epithelial cells of the rat small intestine and to superficial epithelial cells of the rat colon. In the present study, we demonstrate immunoreactive guanylin in a subpopulation of goblet cells in the rat jejunum and ileum. In the colon, there was immunostaining of superficial epithelial cells and goblet cells. The immunohistochemical localization of guanylin parallels the observed distribution of guanylin mRNA. Localization of guanylin in goblet cells leads us to speculate that an in vivo function of guanylin regulated, CFTR-mediated Cl- secretion is to hydrate intestinal mucin. © 1995 by Academic Press, Inc.