The respective cellular distribution of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) immunoreactivity and mRNA expression of the GLP-1 receptor was compared in rat pancreas by means of immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. GLP-1 immunoreactivity was present in the marginal zone of rat pancreatic islets. In contrast, GLP-1 receptor mRNA signals were confined to the central part of pancreatic islets. Neither GLP-1 immunoreactivity nor GLP-1 receptor mRNA signals were detected in the exocrine pancreatic acinar cells or duct cells. The differential distribution of GLP-1 immunoreactivity and GLP-1 receptor mRNA signals indicates that the GLP-1 amino acid sequence is present in the alpha-cell zone of pancreatic islets, whereas the GLP-1 receptor is expressed mainly by beta cells. Thus, our data by in situ hybridization demonstrates the significant expression of GLP-1 receptors on beta cells but makes a significant expression on alpha cells rather unlikely.