The amino acid sequence of rat Clara Cell 10 kDa secretory protein (CC10) shows 55% identity to rabbit uteroglobin. In order to define the relationship between rat CC10 and rabbit uteroglobin in detail, the tissue-specific expression and hormonal regulation of rat CC10 mRNA was analyzed. We report that like rabbit uteroglobin, rat CC10 mRNA is expressed in lung and esophagus, as well as in uteri of estrogen- and progesterone-treated females. Expression of CC10 mRNA in lung is regulated by glucocorticoids. The similarity in expression pattern of rat CC10 mRNA and rabbit uteroglobin mRNA is reflected by a striking similarity in the 5'-flanking regions of the two genes. Despite this overall similarity, two regions of 0.3 kb and 2.1 kb are absent in the rat CC10 upstream gene region. The larger region includes a cluster of hormone receptor binding sites, believed to be responsible for differential regulation of rabbit uteroglobin by glucocorticoids and progesterone. Thus, while the sequence identities in the coding and 5'-flanking regions point towards a common ancestor for the uteroglobin and CC10 gene, later events (deletions/insertions) might have caused species-specific differences in their regulation.