Flask-shaped vesicles have been described as caveolae in mesothelial cells in a number of animal species based on morphological criteria only. Using an antibody against caveolin-1, said to be a biochemical marker of caveolae, immunoelectron microscopy suggests that many but not all such vesicles in mesothelial cells are caveolae. Mesothelial cells from different anatomical sites showed obvious variations in both the population density and distribution of these flask-shaped vesicles and in their density of immunostaining. Lung and pericardial sac had the highest staining density. In some sites (e.g., lung, bladder, colon) caveolae were equally distributed between apical and basolateral surfaces, whereas in others (e.g., spleen, liver), they were predominantly apical. Additional immunopositive sites in the peritoneal membrane were identified, including the epineurium of peripheral nerves and the endothelium of lymphatic vessels. We further suggest that variations in the number of mesothelial cell caveolae and the density of their immunolabeling may have implications for our understanding of certain diseases such as malignant mesothelioma, especially in view of the recent hypothesis that it may be caused by SV40, a virus that appears to enter cells via caveolae.