Expression and regulation of the catecholamine-synthesizing enzymes phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PNMTase; S-adenosyl-L-methionine:phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase, EC 188.8.131.52) and tyrosine hydroxylase [TyrOHase; tyrosine 3-monooxygenase, L-tyrosine, tetrahydropteridine:oxygen oxidoreductase (3-hydroxylating), EC 184.108.40.206] and the coexisting neuropeptide tyrosine (NPY) were studied in rat and bovine adrenal medulla. By using both immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization, PNMTase- and NPY-positive cells exhibited a close overlap in bovine medulla and were preferentially localized in the outer two-thirds of the medulla. Although TyrOHase and its mRNA were observed in virtually all medullary gland cells, TyrOHase mRNA levels were much higher in the PNMTase- and NPY-positive cells. After administration of the catecholamine-depleting drug reserpine to rats, a brief increase, followed by a dramatic decrease, in the level of PNMTase mRNA was observed in the adrenal medulla. In contrast, mRNA for both TyrOHase and NPY only exhibited an increase, whereby the TyrOHase mRNA peak preceded that of NPY mRNA. Different regulatory mechanisms may thus operate for these three compounds coexisting in the adrenal medulla.