An immediately inducible gene by gonadotropin was isolated from rat ovaries primed with pregnant mare serum gonadotropin (PMSG) by using a subtraction cloning procedure. Homology analysis revealed that the gene is a rat homologue of scavenger receptor class B-I, which was recently identified as a specific receptor for high density lipoprotein (HDL). The structure of rat SRBI was determined by nucleotide sequence analysis of full-length cDNAs for SRBI. Northern blot analysis revealed that rat SRBI mRNA levels were rapidly and strongly increased within 3 h by the injection of PMSG. In situ hybridization study revealed that SRBI mRNA was strongly induced in theca interna cells of immature rat ovary stimulated with 30 IU of PMSG for 6 h. SRBI mRNA expression was also observed in corpora lutea of the adult rat ovary. These findings indicate that expression of SRBI mRNA is restricted to and induced in the ovarian steroidogenic cell types where cholesterol is used as a substrate for synthesis of steroid hormones. Our data strongly suggest that SRBI may play a significant role in the ovarian steroidogenesis by mediating selective uptake of cholesterol from HDL to ovarian theca interna cells or to corpus luteum.