A nervous system-specific mRNA that is rapidly induced in PC 12 cells to a greater extent by nerve growth factor (NGF) than by epidermal growth factor treatment has been cloned. The polypeptide deduced from the nucleic acid sequence of the NGF33.1 cDNA clone contains regions of amino acid sequence identity with that predicted by the cDNA clone VGF, and further analysis suggests that both NGF33.1 and VGF cDNA clones very likely correspond to the same mRNA (VGF). In this report both the nucleic acid sequence that corresponds to VGF mRNA and the polypeptide predicted by the NGF33.1 cDNA clone are presented. Genomic Southern analysis and database comparison did not detect additional sequences with high homology to the VGF gene. Induction of VGF mRNA by depolarization and phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate treatment was greater than by serum stimulation or protein kinase A pathway activation. These studies suggest that VGF mRNA is induced to the greatest extent by NGF treatment and that VGF is one of the most rapidly regulated neuronal mRNAs identified in PC12 cells.