To address the question how relatively small numbers of immediate early gene (IEG) could specifically couple a wide range of stimulus-response cascades, we examined the possibility that IEG could be expressed heterogeneously in individual neurons. Analysis of multiple IEG in single neurons revealed that many individual DRG neurons express several IEGs. The combinatorial expression of IEGs by individual DRG displays substantial heterogeneity. Analysis of mRNA species encoding AP-1 composition in single cells also revealed coordinated change of mRNAs coding for AP-1 factors after membrane depolarization. Our results indicate that differential expression of IEG in individual cells, and the possible interaction among them may represent a mechanism by which the specificity in stimulation-response coupling may be achieved by IEGs.