The expression of myelin protein genes in Schwann cells has been studied in situ hybridization. 35S-UTP-labelled, antisense and sense RNA probes to the major protein Po, myelin basic protein (MBP), myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG) and proteolipid protein (PLP) were employed with paraffin-embedded sections, teased fibres and dissociated Schwann cells from sciatic nerves of rats. Teased fibres were also prepared from cervical sympathetic trunks. Po mRNA was strongly expressed in the mid-internodal perinuclear area of Schwann cell cytoplasm. The degree of signal appeared to be related to fibre size. MBP mRNA showed a diffuse pattern along the Schwann cell internode with a marked increase in grains at the paranodal cytoplasm, particularly in larger fibres. This distribution suggests that the paranodal area is a major site of insertion of MBP into myelin membrane. The expression of MAG and PLP mRNA was markedly lower than Po and MBP. Both mRNAs were localized in the perinuclear cytoplasm and showed a dependence on fibre size. No significant signal was present in Schwann cells associated with unmyelinated axons. In addition to providing data on the cellular expression of myelin protein genes, these studies have shown that teased fibres are invaluable in allowing the localization of low abundance mRNAs.