The distribution of neuregulin transcripts in rat brains was studied by both RNA blotting and in situ hybridization. Our data demonstrate that multiple neuregulin transcripts are expressed in neurons of the basal forebrain, the hippocampus, the diencephalon, the cerebellum, the brainstem, and the spinal cord. Developmental changes in the distribution of neuregulin transcripts were observed only in the cerebellum and the hippocampus. The intense neuregulin hybridization signals in the brainstem motor and sensory nuclei and the spinal motor neurons are suggestive of a functional involvement of neuregulins in motor and sensory systems. The expression of neuregulins in other parts of the brain also indicates that these factors are involved in a variety of central nervous system functions.