Axoplasmic RNA from the giant axon of the squid (Loligo pealii) comprises polyadenylated [poly (A)+] RNA, as judged, in part, by hybridization to [3H]polyuridine and by in situ hybridization analyses using the same probe. The polyadenylate content of axoplasm (0.24 ng/microgram of total RNA) suggests that the poly(A)+ RNA population makes up approximately 0.4% of total axoplasmic RNA. Axoplasmic poly(A)+ RNA can serve as a template for the synthesis of cDNA using a reverse transcriptase and oligo(deoxythymidine) as primer. The size of the cDNA synthesized is heterogeneous, with most fragments greater than 450 nucleotides. The hybridization of axoplasmic cDNA to its template RNA reveals two major kinetic classes: a rapidly hybridizing component (abundant sequences) and a slower-reacting component (moderately abundant and rare sequences). The latter component accounts for approximately 56% of the total cDNA mass. The rapidly and slowly hybridizing kinetic components have a sequence complexity of approximately 2.7 kilobases and 3.1 X 10(2) kilobases, respectively. The diversity of the abundant and rare RNA classes is sufficient to code for one to two and 205, respectively, different poly(A)+ RNAs averaging 1,500 nucleotides in length. Overall, the sequence complexity of axoplasmic poly(A)+ RNA represents approximately 0.4% that of poly(A)+ mRNA of the optic lobe, a complex neural tissue used as a standard. Taken together, these findings indicate that the squid giant axon contains a heterogeneous population of poly(A)+ RNAs.