In the marine mollusk Aplysia limacina, a substantial amount of endogenous D-aspartic acid (D-Asp) was found following its synthesis from L-aspartate by an aspartate racemase. Concentrations Of D-Asp between 3.9 and 4.6 mu mol/g tissue were found in the cerebral, abdominal, buccal, pleural, and pedal ganglia. In non nervous tissues, D-Asp occurred at a very low concentration compared to the nervous system. Immunohistochemical studies conducted on cultured Aplysia neurons using an anti-D-aspartate antibody demonstrated that D-Asp occurs in the soma, dendrites, and in synaptic varicosities. Synaptosomes and synaptic vesicles from cerebral ganglia were prepared and characterized by electron microscopy. HPLC analysis revealed high concentrations Of D-Asp together with L-aspartate and L-glutamate in isolated synaptosomes In addition, D-Asp was released from synaptosomes by K+ depolarization or by ionomycin. D-Asp was one of the principal amino acids present in synaptic vesicles representing about the 25% of total amino acids present in these cellular organelles. injection Of D-Asp into live animals or addition to the incubation media of cultured neurons, caused an increase in cAMP content. Taken as a whole, these findings suggest a possible role Of D-Asp in neurotransmission in the nervous system of Aplysia limacina.