The projections from the midline and intralaminar thalamic nuclei to the cerebral cortex were studied in the rat by means of anterograde tracing with Phaseolus vulgaris-leucoagglutinin. The midline and intralaminar nuclear complex taken as a whole projects to widespread, predominantly frontal, cortical areas. Each of the constituent thalamic nuclei has a restricted cortical projection field that overlaps only slightly with the projection fields of adjacent midline and intralaminar nuclei. The projections of the intralaminar nuclei cover a larger cortical area than those of the midline nuclei. The laminar distributions of fibres from individual midline and intralaminar thalamic nuclei are different and include both deep and superficial cortical layers. The parataenial, paraventricular and intermediodorsal midline nuclei each project to circumscribed parts of the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampal and parahippocampal regions. In the prefrontal cortex, the projections are restricted to the medial orbital, infralimbic, ventral prelimbic and agranular insular fields, and the rostral part of the ventral anterior cingular cortex. In contrast to the other midline nuclei, the rhomboid nucleus projects to widespread cortical areas. The rostral intralaminar nuclei innervate dorsal parts of the prefrontal cortex, i.e. the dorsal parts of the prelimbic, anterior cingular and dorsal agranular insular cortical fields, the lateral and ventrolateral orbital areas, and the caudal part of the ventral anterior cingular cortex. Additional projections are aimed at the agranular fields of the motor cortex and the caudal part of the parietal cortex. The lateral part of the parafascicular nucleus sends fibres predominantly to the lateral agranular field of the motor cortex and the rostral part of the parietal cortex. The medial part of the parafascicular nucleus projects rather sparsely to the dorsal part of the prelimbic cortex, the anterior cingular cortex and the medial agranular field of the motor cortex. Individual midline and intralaminar thalamic nuclei are thus in a position to directly influence circumscribed areas of the cerebral cortex. In combination with previously reported data on the organization of the midline and intralaminar thalamostriatal projections and the prefrontal corticostriatal projections the present results suggest a high degree of differentiation in the convergence of thalamic and cortical afferent fibres in the striatum. Each of the recently described parallel basal ganglia-thalamocortical circuits can thus be expanded to include projections at both the cortical and striatal levels from a specific part of the midline and intralaminar nuclear complex. The distinctive laminar distributions of the fibres originating from the different nuclei emphasize the specificity of the midline and intralaminar thalamocortical projections.