Abstract Protein tyrosine kinases are pivotal in central nervous tissue development and maintenance. Here we focus on the expression of Ehk-1, a novel Elk-related receptor tyrosine kinase. Ehk-1 gene expression is observed in the developing and adult central nervous system and is highly regulated throughout development at both the messenger RNA and protein levels. Three messenger RNA transcripts of 8.5, 5.9 and 5.1 kb are detectable in the rat brain and a variety of splice possibilities have been identified. However, a major protein species of around M, 120,000 predominates throughout development. Ehk-1 messenger RNA and protein levels are highest in the first postnatal week. By in situ messenger RNA hybridization the gene is expressed by all neurons of the adult brain, but mostly in the hippocampus, cerebral cortex and large neurons of the deep cerebellar nuclei, as well as the Purkinje and granular cells of the cerebellum. At earlier stages of development, transcripts are most prominent in the periventricular germinal layers of the brain. Immunohistochemistry reveals a pronounced membrane associated protein expression in immature neurons. In the adult animal, peak reactivity was found in the neuropil with sparing of most perikarya. The spatial and temporal pattern of ehk-1 gene expression suggests a role in both the development and maintenance of differentiated neurons of the central nervous system.