Gap junctions allow direct intercellular coupling between many cells including those in the vascular wall. Studies of connexin expression in cells of the microcirculatory system are very few in number. However, cell-to-cell communication between cells of the arteriolar wall may be particularly important in microcirculatory control. We investigated the expression of connexins 43, 40, and 37 (Cx43, Cx40, Cx37) mRNA and proteins in primary cultures of smooth muscle cells (SMC) from rat renal preglomerular arterioles and in the aortic cell line A7r5. Furthermore protein expression in preglomerular arterioles in frozen sections was evaluated. SMC were isolated from kidneys using an iron oxide sieve method and explant technique. Total RNA from these cultures was tested by RT-PCR analysis for the expression of the three connexins mRNA. Using immunofluorescence we examined whether the expression pattern of connexin protein in the cell culture and frozen sections corresponded to the mRNA expression. The data show that A7r5 and preglomerular SMC express mRNA for Cx37 in addition to Cx43 and Cx40. In A7r5 cells the mRNA for Cx43, Cx40, and Cx37 are translated to protein, whereas cultured preglomerular SMC and the media of afferent arterioles in frozen sections only showed Cx40 immunoreactivity.