The immunoreactivity for thioredoxin, which catalyzes protein disulfide reductions, has previously been shown to exist in nerve cells and their axons. Here we demonstrate the localization of thioredoxin mRNA as revealed by in situ hybridization in the rat brain. The gene is expressed in nerve cells of a variety of brain regions, for example, the cerebral cortex, the piriform cortex, the medial preoptic area, the CA3/CA4 region of the hippocampal formation, the dentate gyrus, the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus, the arcuate nucleus, the substantia nigra pars compacta, the locus coeruleus, the ependyma of the 4th ventricle, and the epithelial cells of the choroid plexus. This distribution implicates an important function in nerve cell metabolism, especially in regions with high energy demands and indicates a role of the choroid plexus in nerve cell protection from environmental influences. It was found that after mechanical injury induced by partial unilateral hemitransection the thioredoxin mRNA expression is upregulated in the lesioned area and spreads to the cortical hemispheres at the lesioned level. This induction suggests a function of thioredoxin in the regeneration machinery of the brain following mechanical injury and oxidative stress.