Previous studies of flagellar mutants have identified six axonemal polypeptides as components of a 'dynein regulatory complex' (DRC). The DRC is thought to coordinate the activity of the multiple flagellar dyneins, but its location within the axoneme has been unknown (Huang et al., 1982; Piperno et al., 1992). We have used improved chromatographic procedures (Kagami and Kamiya, 1992) and computer averaging of EM images (Mastronarde et al., 1992) to analyze the relationship between the DRC and the dynein arms. Our results suggest that some of the DRC components are located at the base of the second radial spoke in close association with the inner dynein arms. (a) Averages of axoneme cross-sections indicate that inner arm structures are significantly reduced in three DRC mutants (pf3<pf2<sup-pf-3<wt). (b) These defects are more pronounced in distal/medial regions of the axoneme than in proximal regions. (c) Analysis of flagellar extracts by fast protein liquid chromatography and SDS-PAGE indicates that a specific dynein 12 isoform is missing in pf3 and reduced in pf2 and sup-pf-3. Comparison with ida4 and pf3ida4 extracts reveals that this isoform differs from those missing in ida4. (d) When viewed in longitudinal section, all three DRC mutants lack a crescent-shaped density above the second radial spoke, and pf3 axonemes lack additional structures adjacent to the crescent. We propose that the crescent corresponds in part to the location of the DRC, and that this structure is also directly associated with a subset of the inner dynein arms. This position is appropriate for a complex that is thought to mediate signals between the radial spokes and the dynein arms.