We have previously described the cloning, sequencing and in vitro expression of a full-length rainbow trout estrogen receptor cDNA (rtER cDNA). This full cDNA randomly labelled was used to study the estrogen induction of hepatic rtER mRNA in correlation with vitellogenin (Vg) mRNA in different physiological situations. In this paper, we show that in the liver two mRNA species are under hormonal control and their level increases about 8-fold after estrogen stimulation. These two mRNAs are expressed and induced in the liver as early as the hatching stage in correlation with the expression of Vg mRNA. A long-term analysis of rtER mRNA after estradiol (E2) injection shows a transient induction of the nuclear ER and its mRNA which recover to the basal level after 2 weeks. Nevertheless, a memory effect was observed on the expression of the Vg gene which does not appear to be directly related to the estrogen receptor level.