Entorhinal cortex lesions (ECL) that damage the perforant path to the hippocampus induce rapid increases of apolipoprotein E (apo E) mRNA in the hippocampus. Apo E mRNA was localized in astrocytes by in situ hybridization in combination with immunocytochemistry for glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). Unilateral ECL also increased hippocampal GFAP mRNA, with increases preceding those of apo E mRNA. The apo E mRNA and GFAP mRNA responses were transiently bilateral in non-denervated zones. The timing of response in apo E mRNA to deafferentation supports suggestions that apo E has roles in membrane remodelling during responses to neuron injury.