We identified GABAA receptor subunits in rat retina using PCR. The high degree of conservation among previously described members of ligand-gated anion channels in transmembrane domains was used to design degenerate sense and antisense oligonucleotides. These oligonucleotides were used as primers for PCR, which was applied to the rat retina cDNA. Analysis of clones derived from the PCR amplification identified the GABAA alpha 1, beta 1, beta 3, and gamma 2 subunits and the glycine alpha 1 subunit. In addition, two clones closely related to the human GABAA rho-subunit class were obtained. Molecular cloning revealed one of them as the rat counterpart of the human rho 2 subunit. Northern blot analysis demonstrated the expression of mRNAs for rho subunits in retina. These results further support the hypothesis that bicuculline-insensitive GABA channels in rat retina are comprised of rho subunits.