The functional significance of biochemical and immunochemical heterogeneity in neuronal kinesin remains uncertain. Confocal laser scanning microscopy, cytofluorimetric scanning, and immunoblots were used for quantitative analyses of axonal transport and cellular distribution of immunochemically distinct kinesin heavy chain isoforms (H1 and H2) in rat peripheral nerve and spinal cord. H1 and H2 immunoreactivities (IR) were observed in axons proximal to a crush as early as 1 hr after the crush operation and increased linearly with time, consistent with fast axonal transport of both. Only approximately 10% of the proximal accumulations of H1-IR and H2-IR accumulated distal to the crush, in contrast to synaptophysin-IR (approximately 70%). H2-IR was widely present in peripheral nervous system and virtually colocalized with synaptic vesicle proteins synaptophysin, synaptobrevin I, and SNAP-25 and two neuropeptides [calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and substance P (SP)], although H2-IR was weaker in spinal cord terminals. In contrast, H1-IR appeared preferentially enriched in large axons, probably motor and large sensory neurons, which contained synaptophysin-IR, synaptobrevin I-IR, SNAP-25-IR, and CGRP-IR. However, H1-IR was weak or absent from SP-containing thin and medium-sized axons. In addition, H1-IR appeared to be absent from spinal cord nerve terminals. H1- and H2-IR kinesins are both transported with fast axonal transport, and comparatively small amounts of kinesins are retrogradely transported. H2 was widely distributed in motor, sensory, and sympathetic neurons, whereas H1 was enriched in large motor and sensory neurons.