A radiolabelled cRNA was synthesized using a 1.4 kb cDNA complementary to mRNA encoding bovine basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) as a template, and used as a probe to investigate the expression of mRNA encoding bFGF in bovine ovarian tissue, and luteal cells in primary culture. Northern analysis of poly(A +)RNA prepared from follicles and corpora lutea of various stages revealed a major mRNA species of 7 kb in corpora lutea of all stages, the amount of which was higher late in the luteal phase. No hybridizable message was detectable in follicles of any size. When luteal cells were established in primary culture, expression of the 7 kb mRNA species was maintained. This expression was increased markedly when cells were treated with LH/hCG or Bt2cAMP. Prostaglandin F-2 alpha treatment caused a marked decrease in the basal content of this 7 kb mRNA, and also severely impaired the ability of LH to stimulate this expression.