Cells expressing mRNA for hippocampus-derived neurotrophic factor (HDNF/NT-3) or brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) were identified by in situ hybridization. In the rat brain, HDNF mRNA was predominantly found in pyramidal neurons in CA1 and CA2 of the hippocampus. Lower levels of HDNF mRNA were found in granular neurons of the dentate gyrus and in neurons of the taenia tecta and induseum griseum. BDNF mRNA-expressing cells were more widely distributed in the rat brain, with high levels in neurons of CA2, CA3, and the hilar region of the dentate gyrus, in the external and internal pyramidal layers of the cerebral cortex, in the claustrum, and in one brainstem structure. Lower levels were seen in CA1 and in the granular layer of the hippocampus, in the taenia tecta, and in the mammillary complex. In peripheral tissues, HDNF mRNA was found in glomerular cells in the kidney, secretory cells in the male rat submandibular gland, and epithelial cells in secondary and tertiary follicles in the ovary. Cells expressing BDNF mRNA were found in the dorsal root ganglia, where neurons of various sizes were labeled.