Vanilloid receptor subtype 1 (VR1) is a non-selective cation channel detected on sensory neurons that is sensitive to capsaicin, the main pungent ingredient of hot chili pepper. Capsaicin application to neonatal animals causes cardiorespiratory distress, and this susceptibility to capsaicin changes during early postnatal life. This prompted us to hypothesise that in addition to its known neuronal localisation, VR1 is also expressed by non-neuronal cells of the heart during development. This issue was addressed in the rat heart during pre- and postnatal development by means of RT-PCR, western blot and immunohistochemistry. VR1-mRNA was transiently expressed from E14 to P30 but absent from adult hearts. Translation into protein was verified by western blotting. Immunohistochemistry proved that VR1 protein was localised in cardiomyocytes during those developmental stages at which mRNA was detected. In conclusion, VR1 is not neuron-specific but is transiently expressed on cardiomyocytes during ontogeny thereby pointing to a developmental role of this cation channel.