It is known that during embryonic life, interactions between the pancreatic epithelium and its surrounding mesenchyme are important for proper development of the pancreas. These interactions are thought to be mediated by soluble factors, which could be, as in other tissues, the ligands of tyrosine kinase receptors. In this study, we screened for tyrosine kinase receptors expressed in pancreata of 13-day-old embryonic rats. Using a polymerase chain reaction-based approach that exploits sequence similarities within the catalytic kinase domains of these receptors, we identified 30 different tyrosine kinase receptors. The same approach was then used on cDNA prepared from fractions enriched in epithelium or in mesenchyme. Receptors for factors such as platelet derived growth factors were found to be expressed both in the epithelial and the mesenchymal fractions. Receptors for stem cell factor, for epidermal growth factor family members were mainly found in the epithelial fraction. The profile of expression of receptor tyrosine kinases in the embryonic pancreas was finally compared to the one found in other tissues and cell types, such as kidney, brain or INS-1 cells. Platelet derived growth factor receptors and ErbB2 were found to be enriched in the embryonic pancreas when compared with other tissues. It will now be possible to test the effects of the ligands of the different receptors we have cloned, on the differentiation and growth of the pancreas.