To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of kappa-opioid receptor mRNA in cells of the immune system. While the presence of opioid receptors on cells of the immune system has been controversial, cell-binding analysis has indicated that the kappa-opioid receptor is expressed by the immature T cell line R1.1. We have developed a reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction protocol to amplify the mRNA extracted from R1.1 cells with primers derived from the cDNA sequence of the mouse kappa-opioid receptor. Nucleotide sequences of the amplified products were examined and two populations of cDNA were detected which differ in the 5' region upstream of the ATG start codon. Comparison of these sequences to the previously published kappa-opioid receptor cDNA sequence suggests the presence of an intron-exon junction in the 5' non-coding region.