The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the abilities of a transplantable rat choriocarcinoma (Rcho) to produce placental PRLs. The Rcho tumor was analyzed biochemically and histologically for the expression of placental PRLs. Expression of placental PRL mRNAs was determined by Northern blot and in situ hybridization analyses. Expression of placental PRL proteins was determined by Western blot and immunocytochemical analyses. Histologically, Rcho tumors were characterized by the appearance of giant cell surrounding hemorrhagic regions. Female rats bearing the Rcho tumor beneath their kidney capsule showed extensive mammary gland development. The Rcho tumors expressed placental lactogen-I (PL-I) mRNA and protein, but there was no evidence of placental lactogen-II (PL-II), PRL-like protein-A (PLP-A), or PRL-like protein-B (PLP-B). Rcho PL-I mRNA and proteins migrated as a 1-kilobase species and a 36- to 40-kDa species similar to those expressed by normal rat trophoblast tissues. The cell type responsible for Rcho PL-I production was the giant cell, similar to that observed in normal rat trophoblast tissues. In summary, we have demonstrated the production of PL-I by a transplantable rat choriocarcinoma (Rcho). The Rcho tumor resembles rat trophoblast tissue at early postimplantation stages (days 6-10 of gestation) and may be a useful tool for studying placental PRL expression during trophoblast differentiation.