The effects of unilateral olfactory bulb ablation upon the odorant receptor expression were studied during the degeneration/regeneration process in the olfactory epithelium of adult rats. Using the in situ hybridization approach, we compared the time course of decay and recovery of expression for three different receptor subtypes (OR14, OR5, OR124). The number of neurons expressing receptor subtypes dramatically decreased in the olfactory epithelium on the lesioned side and reached a minimum at day 5 postsurgery. A progressive recovery was then observed from day 5 to day 15 postlesion, when a plateau was reached. Noticeable differences in the recovery level of receptor expression were observed according to the zonal patterning: the recovery level for neurons located in the lateral zone reached 70% of the control side value while the recovery levels in the dorsal and medial zones represented 35% and 53% of this value, respectively. Axotomy experiments suggest that zone-specific differences in receptor reexpression reported after bulbectomy might be related to the trophic influence of the olfactory bulb.