Although protein phosphorylation has been characterized more extensively, modulation of the acetylation state of signaling molecules is now being recognized as a key means of signal transduction. The enzymes responsible for mediating these changes include histone acetyl transferases and histone deacetylases (HDACs). Members of the HDAC family of enzymes have been identified as potential therapeutic targets for diseases ranging from cancer to ischemia and neurodegeneration. We initiated a project to conduct comprehensive gene expression mapping of the 11 HDAC isoforms (HDAC1-11) (classes I, II, and IV) throughout the rat brain using high-resolution in situ hybridization (ISH) and imaging technology. Internal and external data bases were employed to identify the appropriate rat sequence information for probe selection. In addition, immunohistochemistry was performed on these samples to separately examine HDAC expression in neurons, astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and endothelial cells in the CNS. This double-labeling approach enabled the identification of specific cell types in which the individual HDACs were expressed. The signals obtained by ISH were compared to radiolabeled standards and thereby enabled semiquantitative analysis of individual HDAC isoforms and defined relative levels of gene expression in >50 brain regions. This project produced an extensive atlas of 11 HDAC isoforms throughout the rat brain, including cell type localization, providing a valuable resource for examining the roles of specific HDACs in the brain and the development of future modulators of HDAC activity.