Expression of mineralocorticoid type I receptor (MR) gene in the rat cochlea was determined using molecular biological techniques. We synthesized complementary DNA (cDNA) from rat cochlear total RNA and then amplified MR cDNA fragments by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The amplified cDNA fragments were subcloned into an expression vector and the nucleotide sequence was analyzed to confirm the expression of mRNA encoding MR in the cochlea. We then synthesized digoxigenin-labeled riboprobes with this cloned DNA template and examined the localization of MR mRNA in the cochlea by in situ hybridization. The amino acid sequence of MR cDNA expressed in the cochlea was identical to that of the MR first cloned in the rat hippocampus. In situ hybridization showed the expression of MR mRNA in marginal cells of the stria vascularis, suggesting that aldosterone may regulate microhomeostasis of the endolymph, presumably by modulating Na, K-ATPase activity. Intense MR signal was also identified in spiral ganglion cells, the function of which remains to be determined.