The promoter of rat connexin32 (Cx32), the gap junction protein found in liver, was studied in transgenic mice. Cx32 transgenes, containing 2.5-kb of sequence upstream from the promoter, exon I, the entire 6.1-kb intron and the beginning of the coding sequence linked to the gene encoding luciferase (Luc), were found to be expressed in mouse in the same tissue-specific manner as previously reported for Cx32. Another construct lacking the promoter, but retaining 1.8 kb from the 3' end of the intron, was found to be expressed specifically in the nervous system. This result suggested that a second promoter, different from that used in liver, functions in nervous tissue. The use of this promoter in normal rats was corroborated by sequence analysis of reverse-transcribed PCR products obtained from rat nervous tissue RNA. The second promoter drives the synthesis of a second Cx32 mRNA species that is processed to remove a small 345-bp intron that shares its acceptor splice site with the large intron. This finding could have implications for the genetic basis of the X-linked form of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT-X) in those patients that do not exhibit mutations in the Cx32-coding region.