We quantified fetal rat extrapancreatic insulin-gene expression by measuring mRNA in the yolk sac and placenta. Yolk sac makes a significant contribution to the total fetal insulin stores. The placenta contains a much smaller amount of insulin mRNA. Yolk sac insulin mRNA is barely detectable at 16 days gestation but increases markedly to a maximum at 21 days, 1 day before birth. In contrast to the pancreatic 550-nucleotlde (n) insulin mRNA, yolk sac has a 720-n mRNA. However, on removal of the terminal poly(A), both transcripts produce a 440-n RNA, the size predicted for a fully processed insulin mRNA.