A common perception is that cholesterol, the major structural lipid found in mammalian membranes, is localized nearly exclusively to the plasma membrane of living cells and that it is found in much smaller quantities in internal membranes. This perception is based almost exclusively on cell fractionation studies, in which density gradient centrifugation is used for purification of discrete subcellular membrane fractions. Here we describe a monoclonal antibody, MAb 2C5-6, previously reported to detect purified cholesterol in synthetic membranes (Swartz GM Jr, Gentry MK, Amende LM, Blanchette-Mackie EJ, and Alving CR. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 85 1902-1906, 1988), that is capable of detecting cholesterol in situ in the membranes of skeletal muscle sections. Localization of cholesterol, the dihydropyridine receptor of the T tubule, and the Ca(2+)-ATPase of the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SERCA2) by means of double and triple immunostaining protocols clearly demonstrates that cholesterol is primarily localized to the sarcoplasmic reticulum membranes of skeletal muscle rather than the sarcolemmal or T tubule membranes. The availability of this reagent and its ability to spatially localize cholesterol in situ may provide a greater understanding of the relationship between membrane cholesterol content and transmembrane signaling in skeletal muscle.