Chemokines are a group of pro-inflammatory peptides that mediate leukocyte migration and activation. Several members of the chemokine family have been shown to be synthesized by cells of the central nervous system (CNS). To begin to address the role of chemokine receptors in CNS physiology, we identified, by molecular cloning techniques, the rat orthologs of the chemokine receptors, CCR2, CCR3, CCR5, and CXCR4. CCR2 and CCR5 expression was detected in rat spleen, lung, kidney, thymus and macrophages; CCR5 mRNA was also detected in rat brain. Primary cultures of rat microglia expressed CCR5 mRNA that was regulated by IFN-gamma, while both cultured astrocytes and microglia were found to contain mRNA for CXCR4 and CX3CR1. Induction of experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE) in the rat was accompanied by increased levels of CCR2, CCR5, CXCR4, and CX3CR1 mRNAs in the lumbar spinal cords of animals displaying clinical signs of the disease. These data identify the rat orthologs of chemokine receptors and demonstrate that brain, spinal cord, and cultured glial cells express chemokine receptors that can be regulated both in vitro and in vivo.