The kallikreins (KLKs) are a highly conserved multi-gene family of serine proteases that are expressed in a wide variety of tissues and act on a diverse range of substrates. KLK-like enzyme activity has variously been reported to increase or decrease during the period leading up to ovulation in the equine chorionic gonadotrophin (eCG)-primed, human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG)-stimulated immature rat ovary. These earlier studies, which used biochemical assays to detect enzyme activity, lacked the specificity and sensitivity necessary to characterise conclusively the activity of the individual KLK gene family members. In this study, we have used a gene-specific RT-PCR/Southern hybridisation strategy to delineate the expression patterns of six of the individual KLK genes expressed in the rat ovary (rKLK1-3 and rKLK7-9). We have identified three broad patterns of expression in the eCG/hCG-stimulated ovary in which there is either a post-eCG increase/pre-ovulatory decrease in rKLK expression (rKLK1, rKLK3), a peri-ovulatory decrease in expression (rKLK2, rKLK8) or a relatively unchanged pattern of expression (rKLK7, rKLK9). In addition to clarifying the earlier biochemical studies, these findings support a differential role for the individual KLKs in the ovulatory process.