The testis is one of the most abundant sources of microtubule networks. These networks include mitotic and meiotic spindles, the spermatid manchette and axoneme, and the Sertoli cell cytoskeleton. Microtubules are composed of α- and β-tubulin subunits that are polymerized and stabilized by a variety of microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs). One of these, MAP2, has been extensively characterized as a brain-specific protein with the capacity to bind tubulin, cAMP-dependent kinase, and calmodulin. MAP2 mRNA is processed into at least two variants encoding proteins designated MAP2a, MAP2b, and MAP2c. Of the 5.7 kb of coding sequence in the 9-kb mRNA that encodes MAP2a and MAP2b, a deletion of approximately 4 kb produces mRNA encoding MAP2c, which consists of only the N- and C-terminal regions of MAP2b. To determine whether MAP2 was present in the rat testis, microtubule preparations were isolated from adult rat testis and brain by means of taxol-mediated polymerization and analyzed by gel filtration, ELISA, and Western blotting using polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies reactive with MAP2. A 74-kDa protein corresponding to MAP2c was detected in the testis. These results were confirmed by Northern blot analysis of total RNA from adult rat brain and testis with cDNA probes that distinguish between the known MAP2 splice variants. The predominant mRNAs in testis of 6 kb and 2.5-3.5 kb corresponded to MAP2c. A single 6-kb mRNA with the potential to encode MAP2c was detected in enriched preparations of immature Sertoli cells and adult Leydig cells. Round spermatids contained at least two MAP2 mRNAs between approximately 2.5 and 3.5 kb in size that displayed a stage-specific pattern of expression. Immunohistochemistry showed a MAP2-like protein in both somatic and germ cells, with a particularly distinct localization within the cytoplasm of primary and secondary spermatocytes at stage XIV of the seminiferous cycle during meiotic metaphase. In addition to cytoplasmic staining, a novel localization of this protein was observed in the nucleus of many testicular cells.