While the hypothalamus is fundamental for sleep and circadian regulation, the molecular mechanism involved are poorly understood. We have used a differential gene expression technique to identify hypothalamic genes which have altered expression in rat sleep periods. Complex cDNA probes from rat hypothalami removed at Zeitgeber times 4 and 15 were hybridised to rat brain cDNA library girds. From 30 differentially expressed clones, six were further analysed and two were confirmed to exhibit increased expression at Zeitgeber time 4. A Northern blot hybridization of brain, heart, kidney, lung, testis and skin mRNA showed that both clones were brain specific. Therefore, we have identified two novel brain specific diurnally expressed hypothalamic genes. Both genes may have roles in sleep or circadian regulation.