The distribution of connexin36 (Cx36) in the adult rat brain and retina has been analysed at the protein (immunofluorescence) and mRNA (in situ hybridization) level. Cx36 immunoreactivity, consisting primarily of round or elongated puncta, is highly enriched in specific brain regions (inferior olive and the olfactory bulb), in the retina, in the anterior pituitary and in the pineal gland, in agreement with the high levels of Cx36 mRNA in the same regions. A lower density of immunoreactive puncta can be observed in several brain regions, where only scattered subpopulations of cells express Cx36 mRNA. By combining in situ hybridization for Cx36 mRNA with immunohistochemistry for a general neuronal marker (NeuN), we found that neuronal cells are responsible for the expression of Cx36 mRNA in inferior olive, cerebellum, striatum, hippocampus and cerebral cortex. Cx36 mRNA was also demonstrated in parvalbumin-containing GABAergic interneurons of cerebral cortex, striatum, hippocampus and cerebellar cortex. Analysis of developing brain further revealed that Cx36 reaches a peak of expression in the first two weeks of postnatal life, and decreases sharply during the third week. Moreover, in these early stages of postnatal development Cx36 is detectable in neuronal populations that are devoid of Cx36 mRNA at the adult stage. The developmental changes of Cx36 expression suggest a participation of this connexin in the extensive interneuronal coupling which takes place in several regions of the early postnatal brain.