Glutamate treatment of PC12 cells has been shown to result in the accumulation of intracellular inositol phosphates suggesting the presence of glutamate metabotropic receptors (mGluRs) positively coupled to phospholipase C. The present study examined the expression of group I mGluRs (mGluR1 and mGluR5) in PC12 cells. Undifferentiated PC12 cells were found to express both mGluR5 mRNA and receptor protein by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and western blot techniques. However, mGluR1 mRNA was not detected in these cells and western blot analysis showed only faint mGluR1alpha immunoreactivity suggesting a very low level of mGluR1 expression. Nerve growth factor-induced differentiation of PC12 cells resulted in the induction of mGluR1alpha and mGluR1beta mRNA and mGluR1alpha protein. PC12 cells overexpressing dominant negative ras revealed that NGF-induced mGluR1 induction, but not mGluR5 expression, is dependent on ras pathway activation in these cells. These results suggest PC12 cells may be a useful model for investigating the regulation and expression of group I mGluR isoforms and their role in neuronal processes in vitro.