PTH/PTH-related peptide (PTHrP) receptor mRNAs are widely distributed in rat tissues. PTH and PTHrP, a peptide responsible for hypercalcemia associated with cancers, bind equivalently to common receptors that initially were cloned from rat bone and opossum renal cell cDNA libraries. In this study we used rat PTH/PTHrP receptor cDNA to probe for receptor expression in different rat tissues by Northern blot analysis. PTH/PTHrP receptor transcripts are highly expressed in PTH target tissues, kidney and bone. Receptor transcripts, however, also are expressed in many other tissues, including aorta, adrenal gland, bladder, brain, cerebellum, breast, heart, ileum, liver, lung, skeletal muscle, ovary, placenta, skin, spleen, stomach, uterus, and testes. The major transcript in most tissues is 2.3-2.5 kilobases in size. At least two larger mRNAs are observed in kidney and liver, and smaller transcripts are found in kidney, skin, and testes. The most abundant testicular transcript is 1.4-1.5 kilobases in size, and it hybridizes with two different cDNA probes that encode portions of the receptor sequence from the putative fourth transmembrane domain to its C-terminal end. It does not hybridize, however, with a probe encoding the first 107 residues of the receptor sequence. Although, PTH/PTHrP receptor mRNAs are highly expressed in kidney and bone, classic PTH targets that are associated with calcium homeostasis, their wide tissue distribution suggests that PTH and/or PTHrP have other physiological roles, particularly in these other tissues. The mechanisms leading to tissue-specific expression of PTH/PTHrP receptor transcripts of different sizes and the functions of these mRNAs remain to be determined.