The distribution of the messenger RNA encoding the dopamine D5 receptor was determined in the rat brain by in situ hybridization. Using [35S]-labelled riboprobes to either the rat or human D5 receptor, this mRNA was localized to the hippocampus and the parafascicular nucleus of the thalamus. This mRNA could not be visualized in the more traditional brain regions associated with dopaminergic cell bodies or projection fields. This unusual distribution suggests a novel function in the brain for this subtype of the dopamine receptor. © 1992.