The present study has used methoxyacetic acid (MAA)-induced depletion of specific germ cell types in the rat and in situ hybridization with nonradioactive riboprobes to determine the stages of the spermatogenic cycle at which there is expression of the mRNA for the basic chromosomal protein transition protein 2 (TP2). On Northern blots, an abundant mRNA was detectable in samples from control adult rats, but the amount of message was markedly reduced when RNA was extracted from the testes of rats treated 14 and 21 days previously with methoxyacetic acid. These testes were depleted specifically of step 7-12 spermatids, suggesting that these cells contain TP2 mRNA. When tissue sections were subjected to in situ hybridization, the TP2 mRNA was localized at the cellular and subcellular levels. Messenger RNA for TP2 was first detectable in spermatids at step 7. In these spermatids, at high magnification, in addition to some positive reaction in the cytoplasm, intense staining was located to a perinuclear structure consistent with localization of mRNA within the chromatoid body. The amount of TP2 mRNA in the cytoplasm increased as remodelling of the early spermatid nucleus progressed and was highest in step 10 and 11 spermatids at stages X and XI. Thereafter, the mRNA decreased until it was undetectable in step 14 spermatids at stage XIV. The localization of TP2 mRNA to the chromatoid body of step 7 spermatids would be consistent with this organelle being a storage site for long-lived mRNAs utilized later in spermiogenesis.