Importin proteins control access to the cell nucleus by mediating the nuclear transport of specific cargoes. We hypothesized that developmental regulation of gene expression may be partially effected by changes in the nuclear transport machinery complement, manifested as regulated expression of importin alpha family genes. We first clarified the identity of the five known mouse importin alpha genes relative to those for human and then determined their expression throughout postnatal rodent testis using PCR and in situ hybridization. Distinct expression patterns were observed for each. At 10 dpp, all importin alpha mRNAs were detected in spermatogonia. In the adult mouse testis, importins alpha1 and alpha3 were detected in spermatogonia and early pachytene spermatocytes. Importin alpha4 mRNA was identified in pachytene spermatocytes, alpha6 mRNA in round spermatids, and alpha2 mRNA in both of these. The distinct importin alpha expression patterns are consistent with their having specific roles and transport cargoes during spermatogenesis.