We examined the cellular distribution of mRNAs coding for the neurotrophin receptors TrkA, TrkB and p75 in the rat retina during early postnatal development. At P0 (postnatal day 0), mRNAs coding for each of the three receptors were detected in the ganglion cell layer (GCL) and in the inner plexiform layer (IPL), the latter structure essentially containing retinal ganglion cell processes at this developmental stage. At P5, the innermost part of the inner nuclear layer (INL) also expressed TrkA, TrkB and p75 mRNAs. Finally, the GCL, IPL and the whole INL of P10 retinae were labeled by the three probes. The developmentally regulated expression of these receptors underlies a possible role for neurotrophins in the differentiation and survival of retinal cells.