The cellular site of erythropoietin (epo) production within the mammalian kidney is still not completely understood. In the present study, we examined the expression of epo mRNA in microdissected rat nephron segments by RT-PCR after induction of epo expression with cobalt chloride. Erythropoietin mRNA was not detected in nephron segments from saline injected rats. In cobalt chloride injected animals, epo mRNA was found in the majority of samples from the cortical region of the nephron, PCT, and CAL. Medullary tubule preparations (MCT and MAL) were mostly negative for epo mRNA, and glomeruli were uniformly negative. The induction of epo transcripts in tubular cells by cobalt chloride was paralleled by stimulation of the major transport enzyme in the kidney, namely, Na-K ATPase in a tubular profile similar to that of induction of epo transcripts. These results support some earlier findings that epo gene expression in response to cobalt salt stimulation of rat kidney occurs in transporting tubular epithelial cells.