Using solution and in situ hybridization techniques we have studied the effects of adrenalectomy with or without restitution therapy with corticosterone on galanin mRNA levels in discrete regions of the male rat brain. Galanin peptide levels were also measured using a radioimmunoassay. The solution hybridization showed a two-fold increase in galanin mRNA 7 days, but not 14 days, after adrenalectomy in the preoptic area including the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN). No changes were observed in the mediobasal hypothalamus including the arcuate nucleus. In situ hybridization showed that the increase in galanin mRNA was localized to the PVN and that the arcuate nucleus was not affected. The changes observed could be fully counteracted by corticosterone treatment. Radioimmunoassay showed decreased galanin levels in the median eminence 14 days, but not 7 days, after adrenalectomy and increased levels in the anterior pituitary and neurointermediate lobe. The results give evidence for a regional regulation of galanin gene expression and galanin peptide synthesis by adrenocortical steroids.