We characterized expression and activity of the bile salt transporters Na+/taurocholate (TC) cotransporting polypeptide (Ntcp), and bile salt export pump (Bsep), and the expression of organic anion transporting polypeptides 1 and 2 (Oatp1 and 2) and multidrug resistance associated protein-2 (Mrp2) in pregnancy and throughout lactation in rats. The Vmax for Na+/TC cotransport in basolateral liver plasma membrane was increased 1.7-fold in 2 days postpartum relative to control and pregnant rats. This correlated well with an increase in Ntcp messenger RNA (mRNA) and a 2-fold increase in Ntcp protein. Ntcp mRNA remained significantly elevated until 14 days postpartum but had begun to decline by 21 days postpartum. The maximal secretory rate (nmol/min/g liver) for TC in the single pass isolated perfused liver was also increased by 10%, 31%, and 24% at 2, 14, and 21 days postpartum and correlated with increased expression of Ntcp and Bsep mRNA and protein. Infusion of ovine prolactin (oPRL) to ovariectomized rats increased expression of both Ntcp and Bsep mRNA and protein. These data indicate a coordinate increased expression of bile salt transporters postpartum and by PRL. Mrp2 mRNA was stable in pregnancy and postpartum, whereas Mrp2 protein expression decreased significantly in pregnancy, but returned to control levels postpartum. Organic anion transporting polypeptide 2 (Oatp2) mRNA was decreased in pregnancy and increased postpartum, but changes in Oatp2 protein were not significant. Oatp1 mRNA and protein were unchanged in pregnancy and postpartum.