Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) has been implicated in the cell proliferation and directed cell movement in various physiologic and pathologic processes. To explore the role of PDGF in a reversible physiologic process, adaptation of the uterus to pregnancy, expression of PDGF in tissue sections of human gestational myometrium was demonstrated by immunohistochemical techniques and confirmed by nuclease protection analysis. Commensurate with an increase in immunoreactive PDGF expression in the myometrial smooth muscle cells, increased levels of PDGF A-chain mRNA, but not PDGF B-chain or PDGF B-type receptor transcripts, were seen in the gravid uterus relative to the nongravid uterus. The amount of A-chain transcript increased during gestation and diminished during the puerperium. These observations demonstrate PDGF polypeptide expression in situ and implicate PDGF in a normal physiologic process--uterine expansion during pregnancy.