The ryanodine and inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) receptors have previously been found to be intracellular Ca2+ release channels characterized by their large size and 4-fold symmetry. In this study, cardiomyocytes are found to have a different intracellular localization for the two receptors. At the level of light microscopy, the IP3 receptor is immunolocalized in rat ventricular cardiomyocytes at the region of the intercalated discs. By contrast, immunoreactivity of the ryanodine receptor is observed as transverse bands throughout the length of the cardiomyocyte, coincident with the triad junction at the I-bands. At the level of electron microscopy, immunogold particles directed to the IP3 receptor specifically decorate the intercalated discs of rat ventricular and atrial cardiomyocytes, preferentially at the fascia adherens. Binding of [3H] IP3 and [3H]ryanodine were measured in cardiac subcellular fractions. IP3 binding is enriched in a fraction containing intercalated discs. Little or no IP3 binding was detected in longitudinal sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR), junctional SR, sarcolemma, mitochondria, and submitochondrial vesicles. Ryanodine binding is the highest in junctional SR. We conclude that the IP3 receptor is present in ventricular and atrial cardiomyocytes and localized at the region of the intercalated discs. These results suggest a possible role of the IP3 receptor in Ca2+ entry through intercalated discs and/or intercellular signaling between cardiomyocytes.