Pneumocystis carinii has a multigene family, PRT1, that encodes proteins with homology to KEX2-like proteases. PRT1 genes cluster with MSG genes near the telomeres and, like MSG, PRT1 proteins seem to be surface-expressed. The clustering of PRT1 and MSG genes suggested that expression of the two multigene families might be coordinated. Studying gene expression in P. carinii has been hampered by the lack of a culture system, and by lack of clonality in P. carinii populations in naturally infected rats, the host of this fungus. Heterogeneity can be reduced, however, by low-dose intratracheal inoculation, which can produce P. carinii populations dominated by organisms derived from a single progenitor. To study PRT1 expression, nude rats were inoculated with approximately 10 P. carinii each. The clonality of the P. carinii populations from inoculated rats was assessed by analysis of the UCS locus, a site in the genome that is known to be very heterogeneous in naturally infected rats, but nearly homogeneous in rats infected by low-dose intratracheal inoculation. Each of the populations had the same MSG gene at the UCS locus in at least 80% of the organisms. To investigate PRT1 gene expression, RNA was amplified using primers that amplify numerous PRT1 genes. Seventy-four cloned cDNAs were sequenced, including at least 12 clones from each population of P. carinii. Many differently expressed PRT1 sequences were identified in each population, and a total of 45 different sequences were detected. However, the same PRT1 sequence was present in 15 of 74 plasmids and was found in 3 of the 5 P. carinii populations, suggesting that some PRT1 genes may be either more commonly expressed or expressed at a higher level. These data show that many members of the PRT1 gene family can be expressed in populations of P. carinii derived from few progenitors and suggest that the regulation of this family is different from that governing expression of the MSG gene family.