Three species of aldolase A mRNA (mRNAs I, II, and III) only differing in the structure of the 5'-terminal noncoding region were detected in rat tissues. The cDNA clones for mRNAs II and III were prepared from ascites hepatoma AH60C and sequenced. The mRNA II is 1393 nucleotides long excluding poly(A) tail, while the mRNA III is 1440 nucleotides long, some 50 nucleotides longer than the mRNA II. The mRNAs II and III differ in the sequence between -25 and the 5' termini from the previously reported skeletal muscle aldolase A mRNA (mRNA I, 1343 nucleotides long). By contrast, the residual 5' noncoding sequence (-24 to -1) and the coding and 3' noncoding sequences are common to all the mRNAs. By dot spot hybridization and S1 mapping the distribution of these mRNAs in the various tissues was determined. The mRNA I appears exclusively in a skeletal muscle and some in heart and hepatoma AH60C, whereas the mRNAs II and III appear more or less in all the tissues examined, implying that their appearances are under tissue-specific control. Furthermore, partial nucleotide sequence analysis of the fetal liver aldolase A mRNA supports that aldolase A mRNA that reappeared in hepatoma is really a resurgence of the gene product expressed in the fetus.