The expression level of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase mRNA as well as the level of enzymatic activity were examined in various mouse organs by northern blot and activity gel analyses. High levels of the mRNA expression and enzymatic activity were observed in testis, thymus, spleen, and brain. On the other hand, low levels of the mRNA expression and enzymatic activity were observed in liver and kidney. These findings suggest that the expression of the poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase is mainly regulated by transcription. Striking similarity was observed between the patterns of organ distribution of enzymatic activities of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase and DNA polymerase beta in various mouse organs.