Increases in immunocytochemically detectable type II calcium-calmodulin- dependent protein kinase (CaM II kinase) and decreases in immunocytochemically detectable glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) are known to occur in the visual cortex of adult monkeys following brief periods of monocular visual deprivation. In the present study, GAD and CaM II kinase gene expression was investigated under these conditions. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to generate species- specific cDNA clones that were used to make antisense RNA probes. A second form of CaM II kinase alpha, CaM II kinase alpha-33, which contains an additional phosphorylation consensus sequence, was identified. In situ hybridization in normal visual cortex revealed a complex sublaminar organization of GAD-expressing cells within layers IVC and VI and a distribution of CaM II kinase alpha-expressing cells that was greatest in layers II, III, IVB, and VI. In situ hybridization in the cortex from animals that had been monocularly deprived revealed enhanced CaM II kinase mRNA levels in deprived-eye columns of layer IVC and, associated with the deprived eye, cytochrome oxidase-stained periodicities in other layers. In layer IV, the enhancement of labeling in deprived-eye stripes was, on average, 16% greater than in normal-eye stripes. By contrast, GAD, mRNA levels appeared unchanged in all layers, suggesting a posttranscriptional regulatory mechanism.