Basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2) is involved in several cellular processes of the nervous system during development, maintenance, and regeneration. In the central nervous system, FGF-2 has been shown to be expressed in neurons and glial cells, depending on the developmental stage and brain area. In the present study, a comprehensive analysis was performed of the cellular distribution of the transcripts of FGF-2 and of the FGF high-affinity receptors (R) 1-4 in intact and lesioned sciatic nerve and spinal ganglia. In the adult rat sciatic nerve FGF-2, FGFR1-3 were expressed at low levels as revealed by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Sciatic nerve crush resulted in an increase of these transcript levels. FGFR4 expression was not detected in the intact and crushed nerve as revealed by RT-PCR and RNase protection assay. In situ hybridization using riboprobes for FGF-2, FGFR1-3 displayed staining in diverse cell types. Immunocytochemical staining of consecutive sections with cell markers for myelin, macrophages, and neurons revealed colocalization of the transcripts with Schwann cells and macrophages. In addition to FGF-2 and FGFR1, the transcripts of FGFR2-4 were expressed in neurons of spinal ganglia. Crush lesion of the sciatic nerve resulted in no alterations of the FGFR1-4 transcripts, whereas FGF-2 and FGFR3 mRNAs were up-regulated in spinal ganglia. The expression of FGFRs and FGF-2 in Schwann cells and macrophages at the lesion site of the sciatic nerve and in sensory neurons suggests that FGF-2 is involved in specific functions of these cells during regeneration.