Our previous studies indicate an important role for fibroblast growth factor (FGF) in lens development. Here we study the expression of the flg variant of FGF receptor 1 (FGFR1) during lens development by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridisation. FGFR1 was expressed throughout lens development. Prominent FGFR1 immunoreactivity was associated with cell nuclei, particularly in differentiating lens fibres, suggesting internalisation and nuclear translocation of the receptor. FGFR1 immunoreactivity was also associated with basolateral membranes of cells in the equatorial region and at lens sutures. FGFR1 mRNA was only weakly expressed during early lens morphogenesis but expression increased with the onset of lens fibre differentiation. Once the lens acquired its distinct polarity, an anteroposterior gradient in both protein reactivity and mRNA signal was evident. Anteriorly, central epithelial cells showed weak expression for FGFR1, whereas more posteriorly, in the germinative and transitional zones of the lens where cells maximally proliferate and undergo early stages of fibre differentiation, respectively, expression was significantly stronger. The anteroposterior gradient of increased expression of FGFR1 in the lens coincides with the previously documented anteroposterior gradient of FGF stimulation. In lens epithelial explants, FGF stimulation was found to upregulate FGFR1 expression. Such upregulation may be an important mechanism for generating a high level of FGF stimulation and ensuring a fibre differentiation response. In postnatal rat lenses, there was a significant age-related decline in FGFR1 expression; this correlates with the reduced rate of lens fibre differentiation with age. Overall, these studies support the hypothesis that FGF and FGFR1 are important for regulation of lens fibre differentiation throughout lens development.