In this study we have isolated and sequenced human cDNAs for the phosphoproteins DARPP-32, ARPP-21, and ARPP-16/19, and have compared these sequences to previously characterized bovine and rat cDNAs. In situ hybridization and Northern blot analysis with the human cDNA probes were used to study the expression of mRNAs encoding ARPP-16/19, ARPP-21, and DARPP-32 in human postmortem brain tissue. In situ hybridization was performed using horizontal whole hemisphere sections. Five representative levels of the brain ranging from 71 mm to 104 mm ventral to vertex were examined. All three probes showed distinct hybridization patterns in the caudate nucleus, putamen, nucleus accumbens, and the amygdaloid complex. For ARPP-16/19 mRNA, a hybridization signal comparable to the signal in caudate nucleus, putamen, and nucleus accumbens was also detected in the neocortex. ARPP- 21 and DARPP-32 mRNA, on the other hand, were present in lower levels in neocortical regions. DARPP-32 mRNA was abundant in the cerebellar cortex at the level of the Purkinje cell layer. High levels of ARPP- 16/19 and ARPP-21 mRNA were also found in the cerebellar cortex, where they were confined to deeper layers. The present result demonstrate that mRNAs for the three phosphoproteins are expressed in overlapping, but also distinct, areas of the human brain that in many cases coincide with previously described distribution of the dopamine D1 receptor.