The expression of the olfactory cyclic nucleotide-gated channel (CNG1) was studied in the rat brain. Using RT-PCR, levels of CNG1 mRNA were determined relative to the expression of a constantly expressed gene, alpha-tubulin. RT-PCR showed that CNG1 mRNA was detectable in the pituitary gland, the olfactory bulb, and the cerebellum of adult and 5-day-old rats. A 3.4 kb mRNA was detected in the olfactory bulb by Northern blotting. In situ hybridization analysis showed that CNG1 mRNA expression is present in the olfactory bulb and in the Purkinje cells of the cerebellum. RT-PCR studies on Purkinje cell-enriched cultures obtained from the cerebellum of 16-day-old embryos (E16) confirmed the expression of CNG1 mRNA in these neurones. Our results show that CNG1 is not restricted to the olfactory epithelium but is also present in specific regions of the brain. These results suggest that cyclic nucleotides may act in the regions that possess CNG1 gene expression to affect the electrical activity of certain neurones directly.