We investigated the localization of trkB mRNA, which encodes a putative component of high-affinity brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) or the neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) receptor, in the postnatal rat brain by in situ hybridization histochemistry. At birth, trkB mRNA was strongly expressed in various regions with the thalamus and cerebral cortex showing the strongest expression. As the rat grows, expression generally persisted or declined in most regions with the exception of the hippocampus where trkB mRNA expression increased during postnatal development. In the adult brain, trkB mRNA was detected in the olfactory system, cerebral cortex, hippocampal formation, amygdala, and cerebellar cortex. These findings, together with the developmental profiles of BDNF and NT-3 mRNA expressions, suggest that trkB product (gp145trkB) mainly transduces NT-3 signals early in the postnatal period, and BDNF signals later in the period.