We reported previously [Am. J. Physiol. 271 (Renal Fluid Electrolyte Physiol. 40): F391-F400, 1996] that dopamine inhibits vasopressin (AVP)-dependent water permeability and Na+ transport in the rat cortical collecting duct (CCD) apparently through a D4 dopamine receptor. The present experiments used RT-PCR of total RNA extracted from microdissected rat CCD to determine whether the D4 and D1A dopamine receptor isoforms are expressed. Specific primers were used to amplify three regions of the D4 cDNA. All three gave products with 98-100% nucleotide identity to the known rat D4 sequence; however, there was an extra 6-bp insert at the 3' end of the second transmembrane region that was identical to the human and mouse sequences but which had not been documented in the rat sequence. D4 receptor protein was also localized exclusively to the CCD and medullary collecting ducts by immunohistochemistry. Two regions of the D1A dopamine receptor message were also amplified by RT-PCR of RNA from rat CCD and were verified by sequencing and immunohistochemistry. We conclude that both D4 and D1A dopamine receptors are expressed in the rat CCD, but the physiological effects are attributable to a D4 receptor.