DAX-1, an orphan member of the nuclear hormone receptor superfamily, is responsible for X-linked adrenal hypoplasia congenita (AHC) and the frequently associated hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (HH). The entire DAX-1 genomic region has been sequenced and a putative steroidogenic factor-1 response element has been identified in the promoter region of the gene. The purpose of these investigations was to determine if DAX-1 was expressed in the central nervous system, particularly the hypothalamus and pituitary, in order to better understand the relationship of mutations in this gene to HH associated with AHC. We used Northern blot analysis and reverse transcription PCR to demonstrate that DAX-1 was expressed in the hypothalamus and the pituitary, and to confirm its expression in adrenal cortex and gonads. The expression of DAX-1 in these tissues indicates the involvement of DAX-1 in the development of the reproductive system at multiple levels within the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal/gonadal axis. We also observed the expression of DAX-1 in a human adrenocortical carcinoma cell line, NCI-H295, that has features characteristic of the fetal adrenal cortex. Therefore, NCI-H295 cells will be a useful cellular model for investigating the involvement of DAX-1 in the regulation of steroidogenesis.