The effect of glucocorticoids on corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) gene expression was studied by combination of in situ hybridization histochemistry and steroid implantation. Dexamethasone micropellets, implanted around the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN), caused total inhibition of the hybridizable CRF mRNA signal above the parvocellular neurons of the PVN. Unilateral implantation of dexamethasone around the PVN resulted in a decrease of hybridizable CRF mRNA at the dexamethasone-implanted side. Dexamethasone implants into the cerebral cortex, dorsal hippocampus, ventral subiculum, lateral septum or amygdala were without any effect on the CRF expression in the PVN. Corticosterone did not result in any significant change in CRF mRNA, when implanted into the paraventricular region, dorsal hippocampus or ventral subiculum. When it was placed into the amygdala however, in a few cases it slightly inhibited the CRF mRNA levels in the ipsilateral PVN.