Antisense experiments are often complicated by the lack of reliable methods for selecting effective antisense sequences. Chimeric oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN) libraries and ribonuclease H (RNase H) were used to identify regions on the 1253 nucleotide angiotensin type-1 receptor (AT1) mRNA that are accessible to hybridization with antisense ODNs. Phosphorothioate antisense ODNs targeted against accessible sites reduced AT1 receptor levels by at least 50% in cell culture. ODNs to 4 sites produced a 70% to 80% reduction. In contrast, most sequences targeted between accessible sites were ineffective. When injected into the brains of rats, ODNs targeted to accessible sites reduced AT1 (by 65%) but not AT2 receptor levels. Additionally, AT1 receptor function as measured by agonist-induced water intake, was significantly attenuated in these rats. ODNs directed between accessible sites were ineffective at suppressing water intake. RNA mapping can be applied to any RNA target to facilitate selection of multiple, active antisense sequences for cell culture and in vivo experiments.