By means of in situ hybridisation studies, it is shown that parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) mRNA is strongly expressed in the developing enamel organs of rat teeth. In particular, the cervical loop hybridises strongly with the PTHrP probe and expression is maintained at this site throughout life in the permanently erupting incisor teeth. In mature molar teeth, expression is downregulated to low levels and confined to the epithelial cell rests of Malassez and/or cementoblasts which may derive from these. The gene is also expressed at low levels in the tissue overlying the erupting molars and, thereafter, in the junctional epithelia and connective tissue cells of the epithelial attachment on all tooth surfaces. The premise that PTHrP may undergo post-translational processing and that the resultant products could act in different ways raises the possibility of its exerting multiple paracrine actions during tooth development. These could include the control of cell division and local vascular dilation during development.