In mice, expression of the transcription factor Oct-3 and the proto-oncogene c-mos is limited to germ cells, suggesting a specific role for these factors in gamete physiology and early embryonic development. We have studied the expression pattern of Oct-3 and c-mos in various reproductive as well as control tissues in the cynomolgus monkey, using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Northern analysis. Analogously with the data from the mouse model, strong expression of Oct-3 and c-mos could be detected in monkey ovary and oocytes. Unexpectedly, strong expression of c-mos was demonstrable in the pituitary gland and the amount of mRNA expression in the pituitary was roughly equal to that found in the ovary. Of the tissues examined, the testicular expression of c-mos was the most intense. Weak signal for c-mos mRNA was also seen in hypothalamus and brain; however, all other tissue types examined were negative for c-mos expression. In addition to the oocytes, expression of Oct-3 mRNA was detected in the ovarian granulosa cells, fallopian tube, myometrium, cervix, breast, liver, adrenal gland, pituitary, hypothalamus, brain cortex, prostate, and in testis. Thus, in the cynomolgus monkey, Oct-3 is predominantly, but not specifically, expressed in reproductive tissues. In the female monkey reproductive organs, the expression of c-mos seems to be germ cell specific. Therefore, further characterization of c-mos and Oct-3 functions in primate reproductive physiology, especially in gametogenesis and early embryonic development, is highly warranted. © 1995 wiley-Liss, Inc.