In order to examine histological sections of the rat vomeronasal epithelium with the atomic force microscope (AFM), we developed an electron beam etching method that improves the resolution of AFM images. This method results in AFM images comparable to those obtained with the transmission electron microscope (TEM). Ultrathin tissue sections embedded in epoxy resin were observed before and after the treatment with electron beam radiation. Before electron beam treatment, epithelial structures such as the microvilli surface, dendritic processes, the supporting cell layers and the neuronal cell layers were all visible using the AFM. However, only a few subcellular structures could also be resolved. The AFM images were not as clear as those obtained with the TEM. After electron beam treatment, however, the resolution of AFM images was greatly improved. Most of the subcellular structures observed in TEM images, including the inner membrane of mitochondria, ciliary-structure precursor body, junctional complexes between the neurons and supporting cells, and individual microvilli were now visible in the AFM images. The electron beam treatment appeared to melt the embedding resin, bringing subcellular structures into high relief. The result of this study suggests that electron beam etching of histological samples may provide a new method for the study of subcellular structure using the AFM.