The glucocorticoid-induced receptor (GIR) is an orphan G-protein-coupled receptor awaiting pharmacological characterization. GIR was originally identified in murine thymoma cells, and shows a widespread, yet not completely complementary distribution in mouse and human brain. Expression of the mouse GIR gene is modulated by dexamethasone in the brain and periphery, suggesting that GIR function is directly responsive to glucocorticoid signals. The rat GIR was cloned from rat prefrontal cortex by our group and was shown to be up-regulated following chronic amphetamine. The physiological role of GIR in the rat is not known at present. In order to gain a clearer understanding of the potential functions of GIR in the rat, we performed a detailed mapping of GIR mRNA expression in the rat brain. GIR mRNA showed widespread distribution in forebrain limbic and thalamic structures, and a more restricted distribution in hindbrain areas such as the spinal trigeminal nucleus and the median raphe nucleus. Areas with moderate to high levels of GIR include olfactory regions such as the nucleus of olfactory tract, hippocampus, various thalamic nuclei, cortical layers, and some hypothalamic nuclei. In comparison with previous studies, significant regional differences exist in GIR distribution in mouse and rat brain, particularly in the thalamus, striatum and in hippocampus at a cellular level. Overall, the expression of GIR in rat brain more closely approaches that seen previously in human than mouse, suggesting that rat models may be more informative for understanding the role of GIR in glucocorticoid physiology and glucocorticoid-related disease states. GIR mRNA distribution in the rat indicates a potential role of this receptor in the control of feeding and ingestive behavior, regulation of stress and emotional behavior, learning and memory, and, drug reinforcement and reward.