Specialization among the principal epithelial cells of the epididymal tubule is documented following the analysis of transcriptional activity of four distinct species of mRNA. In situ histochemical analysis revealed a unique pattern of expression for each transcript. This observation supports the concept that region-specific patterns of transcriptional expression along the epididymal tubule serve as the major molecular basis underlying region-specific patterns of luminal proteins within the tubule. Additionally, multiple testicular factors appear to regulate expression of these mRNAs. The transcript encoding peptidyl-prolyl cis-trans isomerase is constitutively expressed. Those encoding the major secretory proteins, protein B/C and protein D/E, are directly regulated by testicular androgen. That encoding the opioid peptide precursor, proenkephalin, is regulated by a non-androgen testicular factor(s), specifically, spermatozoa or a spermatozoa-related factor. Thus, a complex array of nuclear events and signals received by the principal cells serve to determine the transcriptional status of genes expressed within this epididymal cell type.