Corpora lutea were collected from cows at four stages of the luteal phase and prepared for immunostaining at the light microscope level. Other corpora lutea, which were fully developed, were dispersed by collagenase treatment and freshly isolated and cultured cells were processed for immunostaining. Electron microscopy was carried out on mature corpora lutea and freshly isolated cells. Positive staining for cholesterol side-chain-cleavage cytochrome P-450 (P-450scc), an inner-mitochondrial membrane enzyme considered to catalyse the rate-limiting step in the conversion of cholesterol to progesterone, was observed in all corpora lutea. The intensity of staining was much greater in mature corpora lutea than in young or regressing corpora lutea. Only small and large luteal cells stained positively and cells of the vasculature and other connective tissue elements did not. When cells were cultured and had become flatter, the intensity of immunostaining was observed to be greater in large luteal cells than in small luteal cells which was interpreted to be due, in part, to the greater volume density of mitochondria in these cells. In some cultured small luteal cells the pattern of immunostaining appeared as whorls of strands encircling the nucleus. This pattern was interpreted as a three-dimensional network of mitochondria organized into 'strands', more than one mitochondrion in cross-section, perhaps formed during the process of attachment and elongation of the cells. Further observations made at the electron microscope level, included the presence of close (5-8 nm) contacts with interconnecting septa between small luteal cells in tissue.