The rat olfactory bulb undergoes rapid postnatal growth, thus requiring the continuous production of new proteins. The present study examined the development of ribosomes, a key component in protein synthesis, in the bulb using an antibody specific to ribosomal RNA (Y10b). Furthermore, the potential role of afferent activity on patterns of Y10b immunoreactivity, as well as total RNA production (using incorporation of 3H-uridine) was examined by blocking an external naris on postnatal day 1 (P1). In control pups, Y10b was restricted to mitral cells at P2, with labeling expanding to include all layers by P10. Considerable increases in staining density were observed by P30. Although no differences in Y10b immunoreactive patterns were seen in naris-occluded animals 12-48 h after occlusion, or on P10 or P20, by P30, an apparent decrease in numbers of labeled profiles (presumably tufted cells) in the external plexiform layer was found. Furthermore, no changes were seen in levels of 3H-uridine incorporation. Despite the apparent insensitivity to naris closure, the results indicate that ribosome expression, as measured by Y10b immunoreactivity, undergoes rapid postnatal changes that parallel general patterns of growth in the rat olfactory bulb.