Distribution of the mRNA for a metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR1), which is linked to phosphoinositide (PI) hydrolysis, was investigated in adult and developing rat central nervous system (CNS) by in situ hybridization. Transcripts of mGluR1 were specifically localized to neurons and widely distributed throughout the adult rat brain. Most intensely labeled neurons were Purkinje cells of the cerebellum, mitral and tufted cells of the olfactory bulb, and neurons in the hippocampus, lateral septum, thalamus, globus pallidus, entopeduncular nucleus, ventral pallidum, magnocellular preoptic nucleus, substantia nigra, and dorsal cochlear nucleus. Moderately labeled neurons were seen in high density in the dentate gyrus, striatum, islands of Calleja, superficial layers of the retrosplenial, cingulate and entorhinal cortices, mammillary nuclei, red nucleus, and superior colliculus. In the developing rat brain, the level of mGluR1 expression gradually increased during early postnatal days in accordance with the maturation of neuronal elements. These results show prominent expression of mGluR1 in the major targets of putative glutamatergic pathways and unique distribution pattern of mGluR1 distinct from those reported for ionotropic subtypes of glutamate receptors, suggesting specific roles of mGluR1 in the glutamatergic system.