Monoclonal antibodies were raised against a triad-enriched (sarcoplasmic reticulum-T-tubule complex) microsomal membrane fraction of rabbit skeletal muscle. The avidin-biotin complex (ABC) immunoperoxidase staining method was used to screen hybrid colonies. Positive antibodies exhibited a granular doublet pattern at the A-I junction, consistent with the location of triads in rabbit muscle. One monoclonal antibody, M171, was further characterized by ultrastructural and immunoadsorption techniques. Postembedding electron immunocytochemistry was performed on tissue sections embedded in Lowicryl K4M. Goat anti-mouse immunoglobulin absorbed to 10 nm colloidal gold particles was used as an ultrastructural label. In these studies, M171 recognized an epitope at the triads and at periodic openings along the plasmalemma. Immunoadsorption on protein transfers of isolated sarcoplasmic reticulum, surface membrane (plasmalemma and T-tubule), and triad-enriched fractions showed that M171 reacts with a surface membrane component. Taken together, these studies suggest that M171 recognizes an epitope associated with the T-tubule at the triad and at the 'mouth' of the T-system at the plasmalemma.