To investigate the molecular mechanism that regulates circadian rhythms in mammalian peripheral tissues, we examined the phase shifts evoked by light exposure in the circadian mRNA expression rhythms of mammalian Period genes (mPer1, mPer2 and mPer3) and a clock-controlled gene Dbp, in the mouse heart, by Northern blot analysis. The light pulse did not induce any acute mRNA expression of mPer in the heart, but the pulse gave rise to phase shifts in the circadian mRNA rhythms. On the first day after the exposure, only mPer1 mRNA showed a phase shift, whereas obvious phase shifts were not observed in the rhythms of mPer2, mPer3 and Dbp mRNAs. On the second day, phase shifts occurred to a similar extent in the mRNA rhythms of all four genes examined. The rhythm of mPer1 mRNA shifted fastest among those of the three mPers. Therefore mPer1 seems to play an important role in phase resetting of mammalian peripheral oscillators. Immediate responses to light pulses in mRNA expression of mPers may not be required for phase shifting of peripheral circadian oscillators. Our findings suggest that mammals require more than one day to have peripheral oscillators entrained to a new daily schedule.