Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) in the medulla oblongata have been suggested to be involved in the regulation of autonomic function. The aim of the present study was to examine the localization and expression of four types of mGluRs: mGluRla, mGluR2/3, mGluR5, and mGluR7 in the dorsal and ventral autonomic nuclei of the medulla of the rat. The four mGluR subtypes studied were differentially distributed in distinct subnuclei in the nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS). mGluRla immunoreactivity was identified in cell bodies, dendrites, and axonal processes in the intermediate, dorsal lateral, and interstitial subnuclei of the NTS. No mGluRla immunoreactivity was observed in the commissural or medial NTS subnuclei. Immunoreactivity for mGluR2/3 and mGluR5 as observed in fibers and putative axonal processes in the interstitial, intermediate, and dorsolateral subnuclei of the NTS. In contrast, mGluR7 was expressed primarily in fibers and terminals in the central and commissural NTS subnuclei. Expression of mGluR2/3 was clearly evident in cell bodies, dendrites, and axonal processes within the area postrema. The vagal outflow nuclei were also studied. The dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMN) contained mGluRla cell bodies, dendrites, and axonal fibers and light mGluR2/3 processes. Throughout the rostral-caudal extent of the compact and semicompact formation nucleus ambiguus, mGluRla was found in cell bodies and fibers. Within the caudal and rostral regions of the ventral lateral medulla, mGluRla was observed in cell bodies and fibers. Cell bodies containing mGluRla were found adjacent to cells staining positive for tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) in these regions but were not colocalized with the TH staining. However, mGluRla-expressing neurons in the ventral lateral medulla did appear to receive innervation from TH-containing fibers. These results suggest that the mGluRla-expressing neurons within the ventral lateral medulla are predominantly not catecholaminergic but may be innervated by catecholamine-containing fibers. These data are the first to provide a mapping of the different mGluR subtypes within the medulla and may facilitate predictions regarding the function of L-glutamate neurotransmission in these regions.