Northern blot analysis of rat testicular (Te) poly(A)+RNA reveals that a transcript homologous to the major form of the asialoglycoprotein receptor (ASGP-R), designated RHL-1, is expressed as early as one week postnatally and that steady-state levels are approx. 8-times higher in the Te of an 8-week-old rat (sexually mature) as compared to an 84-week-old rat (aged). Partial cDNAs encoding RHL-1 and the minor form of the ASGP-R, designated RHL-2/3, have been cloned from two rat Te/epididymal (Ep) cDNA libraries and rat Te poly(A)+RNA. Sequence analysis of the Te/Ep RHL-1 cDNA and the Te/Ep RHL-2/3 cDNA indicates that these cDNAs are identical to the forms expressed in rat liver. Western blot analysis demonstrates the presence of a 49-kDa Te/Ep RHL-1-related protein band and a 54-kDa Te/Ep RHL-2/3-related protein band in both rat Te membrane fractions (MF) and rat Ep sperm MF. The RHL-1-related protein has been localized to late-stage Te spermatids at the time of release from the seminiferous tubules and to Ep sperm in the region of the sperm tail, referred to as the middle piece. Taken collectively, these data indicate that the authentic RHL-1 and RHL-2/3 genes of the ASGP-R are expressed in late-stage spermatids; however, the Te/Ep RHL-1-related protein differs in size from the hepatic RHL-1 polypeptide, possibly indicating a specific function of the RHL-1-related protein in spermatogenesis.