Transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-alpha), a product of the thecal cells, has potent mitogenic and steroidogenic influences on cells within the ovarian follicle. Whether TGF-alpha continues to be produced in those follicles that go on to ovulate and form a corpus luteum is currently under investigation. In the present study, TGF-alpha was localized in the bovine corpus luteum by means of immunoperoxidase staining using a monoclonal antibody for TGF-alpha that does not cross-react with epidermal growth factor. In corpora lutea from the mid-luteal phase of the cycle TGF-alpha staining was found predominantly in the large luteal cells. Northern blot analysis using a human TGF-alpha cDNA probe hybridized to the 4.5-4.8 kb TGF-alpha transcript in RNA from the corpus luteum. These studies provide new evidence that TGF-alpha, a potent paracrine regulator within the ovarian follicle, continues to be expressed in the corpus luteum.