The apelin receptor (APJ receptor, APJR) has recently come to prominence following the isolation and identification of its endogenous ligand, apelin, from bovine stomach tissue extracts. Investigation of APJR mRNA expression has revealed a hypothalamic distribution similar to that of vasopressin suggesting that the apelin-APJR system may be involved in the regulation of the hypothalamic-adrenal-pituitary (HPA) stress axis. To investigate whether APJR is involved in the regulation of hypothalamic function during stress, APJR mRNA expression levels were measured by in situ hybridization in the hypothalamus of rats subjected to acute and repeated restraint stress. Acute stress caused an increase in APJR mRNA expression in the hypothalamic parvocellular paraventricular nucleus (pPVN) while repeated restraint stress induced a sustained up-regulation of pPVN APJR mRNA expression in intact rats. Removal of endogenous glucocorticoids by adrenalectomy also resulted in an increased expression of APJR mRNA in the PVN, suggesting a negative regulation of APJR mRNA expression by glucocorticoids. The role of glucocorticoids in mediating these stress-induced changes was investigated by analysing the effects of acute and repeated restraint stress on APJR mRNA levels in adrenalectomized rats. In these rats, APJR mRNA expression levels did not change above the already elevated levels of adrenalectomized-control rats. These data suggest that acute and repeated stress exert a stimulatory influence on APJR mRNA expression at the hypothalamic level that may be dependent on basal levels of circulating glucocorticoids, and further suggest a role for APJR in the regulation of hypothalamic function.