We have studied the laminar organization of local long-range inhibitory connections within rat primary visual cortex (area 17) by combining retrograde tracing of nerve cell bodies with glutamic acid decarboxylase immunocytochemistry. While most inhibitory connections are confined to within 0.4 mm of the injection site, a subset of neurons at the layer 5/6 border provide long-range (> 1 mm) inhibitory connections within area 17. However, other cell layers that contain similar local long-range horizontal connections, that is, lower layer 2/3, upper layer 5, and lower layer 6 (Burkhalter and Charles, 1990), show a much more restricted distribution of inhibitory connections. This suggests that cells at the layer 5/6 border play a role in the direct inhibition of neurons at a distant point of the topographic map. Similar double labeling studies reveal long-range inhibitory connections between visual areas. Following injections of fluorescent tracers into area 17, in horizontal sections inhibitory connections can be identified that are up to 8 mm long, linking the extrastriate subdivisions 18a and 18b with striate cortex. Conversely, injections of fluorescent tracers into the cytoarchitectonic subdivision 18a reveal local long-range inhibitory connections within 18a, long-range inhibitory connections between 18a and the cytoarchitectonic subdivision 18b, and inhibitory forward connections from area 17 to 18a. These results suggest that the communication between different cortical areas can be influenced by direct inhibitory connections.