The dorsal striatum is involved in motor-response learning, but the extent to which distinct populations of striatal efferent neurons are differentially involved in such learning is unknown. Activity-regulated, cytoskeleton-associated (Arc) protein is an effector immediate-early gene implicated in synaptic plasticity. We examined arc mRNA expression in striatopallidal vs. striatonigral efferent neurons in dorsomedial and dorsolateral striatum of rats engaged in reversal learning on a T-maze motor-response task. Male Sprague-Dawley rats learned to turn right or left for 3 days. Half of the rats then underwent reversal training. The remaining rats were yoked to rats undergoing reversal training, such that they ran the same number of trials but ran them as continued-acquisition trials. Brains were removed and processed using double-label fluorescent in situ hybridization for arc and preproenkephalin (PPE) mRNA. In the reversal, but not the continued-acquisition, group there was a significant relation between the overall arc mRNA signal in dorsomedial striatum and the number of trials run, with rats reaching criterion in fewer trials having higher levels of arc mRNA expression. A similar relation was seen between the numbers of PPE(+) and PPE(-) neurons in dorsomedial striatum with cytoplasmic arc mRNA expression. Interestingly, in behaviourally activated animals significantly more PPE(-) neurons had cytoplasmic arc mRNA expression. These data suggest that Arc in both striatonigral and striatopallidal efferent neurons is involved in striatal synaptic plasticity mediating motor-response learning in the T-maze and that there is differential processing of arc mRNA in distinct subpopulations of striatal efferent neurons.