High levels of endogenous cholecystokinin (CCK) are present in the rat retina (Eskay & Beinfeld, 1982), but the cellular localization and physiological actions of CCK in the rat retina are uncertain. The goals of this study were to characterize the cells containing CCK, identify cell types that interact with CCK cells, and investigate the effects of CCK on rod bipolar cells. Rat retinas were labeled with antibody to gastrin-CCK (gCCK) using standard immunofluorescence techniques. Patch-clamp methods were used to record from dissociated rod bipolar cells from rats and mice. Gastrin-CCK immunoreactive (-IR) axons were evenly distributed throughout the retina in stratum 5 of the inner plexiform layer of the rat retina. However, the gCCK-IR somata were only detected in the ganglion cell layer in the peripheral retina. The gCCK-IR cells contained glutamate decarboxylase, and some of them also contained immunoreactive substance P. Labeled axons contacted PKC-IR rod bipolar cells, and recoverin-IR ON-cone bipolar cells. CCK-octapeptide inhibits GABAC but not GABAA mediated currents in dissociated rod bipolar cells.