It has been shown that the dystrophin gene, which is defective in patients with Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy (reviewed in ref. 1), is transcribed in brain from a specific promoter that is different from the one used in muscle, and so the two types of transcripts differ at least in their first exon. We recently found that the dystrophin gene is expressed at a higher level in primary cultures of neuronal cells than in astro-glial cells derived from adult mouse brain. Here we investigate the use of two different promoters in each cell type. Our results demonstrate that the brain-type promoter of the dystrophin gene is highly specific to neurons, in which there is a significant increase in the amount of brain-specific messenger RNA during the course of in vitro maturation. By contrast, the muscle-type promoter is active in a wider range of cell types, including not only striated and smooth muscle, but also glial cells to a lesser extent, and probably neurons.