Two forms of inhibin (A and B), gonadal polypeptide hormones that selectively suppress the secretion of FSH from the anterior pituitary, have been characterized from the porcine and human species, each being composed of a common alpha-chain and one of two distinct, but homologous beta-chains, i.e. alpha beta A and alpha beta B. Using cDNAs encoding the porcine inhibin subunits we have cloned and sequenced the cDNAs encoding the alpha, beta A, and beta B chains of rat ovarian inhibin. Northern analyses of rat testicular RNA with rat ovarian cDNA probes show the presence of mRNAs encoding alpha and beta B chains, but no detectable mRNA encoding the beta A chain under our experimental conditions. This suggests that there may be specific and distinct physiological roles for inhibins A and B. In addition, if there is no extratesticular source of beta A mRNA, then the male rat may be devoid of the stimulators of the secretion of FSH, i.e. activin (beta A beta B) and homoactivin A (beta A beta A), which are derived from the beta subunits of the two inhibins.