Three water channel proteins, aquaporins, have been shown to be expressed in the placentae of humans and sheep-AQP1, 3, 8; AQP1 is in the vasculature, whereas AQP3, 8 are in the trophoblast cells. In this study we used the sensitive and reproducible technique of real-time PCR to compare the level of expression of the mRNAs for AQP1, 3 and 8 in the ovine placenta at five stages of gestation (27, 45, 66, 100 and 140 days-where term approximately 150 days). AQP3 was quantitatively the most highly expressed AQP at 66, 100, and 140 days). At 27 days before significant trophoblast development had occurred, the only AQP present was AQP1, in the vasculature. The expression of these aquaporins underlie the high water and urea permeability of the ovine placenta in the last half of pregnancy.