The subcellular localization of elastase and of neutral proteases hydrolyzing histone and casein was determined in human and rabbit polymorphonuclear leukocytes using fractionation by isopycnic centrifugation. Granule-rich fractions obtained by this technique were extracted and analyzed by acrylamide gel electrophoresis, and proteolytic activity on the gels was demonstrated by staining with either N-acetyl-D,L-alanine alpha-naphthyl ester or naphthol AS-D acetate as substrate. In both species, all neutral proteases assayed were found to be localized exclusively in the azurophil granules. Specific activities were about 10-30 times higher in human than in rabbit preparations. In extracts of human azurophil granules up to 10 proteins exhibiting esterolytic activity could be demonstrated after electrophoretic separation. Three major and two or three minor components of these esterases were shown to possess elastase activity. Similar zymograms prepared with extracts from rabbit azurophil granules revealed only one major elastase band. The electrophoretic analysis further showed that the most strongly cationic proteins of both human and rabbit PMNs were also confined to the azurophil granules.