Abstract Oviposition is a complex phenomenon involving various regulatory mechanisms at the neuroendocrine levels. Present study was designed to access the changes in arginine vasotocin (AVT) and its receptor (VT1) gene expression in relation to the time of egg laying of white leghorn hen. The expression of AVT gene (Northern blot analysis and in situ hybridization) in the hypothalamus and localization of ir-AVT in the magnocellular neurons of paraventricular nuclei was studied 2 h before (−2 h), immediately after (0 h) and 2 h after (+2 h) egg laying. Simultaneous changes in the AVT and VT1 receptor gene in the shell gland, which finally responds to AVT for smooth muscle contraction and expulsion of egg, were also determined by semi-quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. The findings indicated increased hypothalamic AVT gene expression immediately after egg laying (0 h) when compared to 2 h before and 2 h after egg laying. AVT receptor gene expression in the shell gland also followed the same pattern. However, AVT gene expression in the shell gland, unlike that of hypothalamus was higher at −2 h compared to 0 and +2 h of oviposition. While highly significant increase was noted in plasma AVT concentration at the time of egg laying, other parameters such as plasma osmolality and ionic concentration (Na +, K +, Ca 2+, and Cl −) did not show any change. It is suggested that in addition to increased hypothalamic AVT transcript and peripheral release, local synthesis of AVT in the shell gland (paracrine release) may contribute to the contraction of shell gland smooth muscles during egg laying. Moreover, these findings clearly indicate temporal correlation of AVT and its receptor gene expression in different tissues during oviposition.