The high-affinity glycine transporter in neurons and glial cells is the primary means of inactivating synaptic glycine. Previous molecular cloning studies have indicated heterogeneity of glycine transporters in the CNS. Here the distribution of glycine transporter GLYT1 and GLYT2 transcripts and proteins in different regions and developmental stages of the rat brain were analysed by Northern, Western and in situ hybridization techniques. Sequence-specific riboprobes and two specific antibodies raised against fusion proteins were used, containing either 76 or 193 amino acids of the C or N terminus of the GLTY1 and GLYT2 transporters respectively. High levels of GLYT1 transcripts were found in the spinal cord, brainstem and cerebellum, and moderate levels in forebrain regions such as the cortex or hippocampus. GLYT2 transcripts are restricted to the spinal cord, brainstem and cerebellum. The onset of both GLYT1 and GLYT2 expression in the brainstem occurred in late fetal life, and full expression of these proteins was observed before weaning. There was a stepwise increase in the levels of mRNA and protein for these two transporters, reaching a maximum by the second postnatal week, followed by a slight decrease until adult values were reached by the fourth postnatal week. These data reveal interesting parallelism between the distribution of different glycine transporters and glycine receptor subunits, and suggest discrete roles for distinct glycine transporters.