1,25-(OH)2D has been shown to suppress the synthesis and secretion of parathyroid hormone in vivo and in dispersed parathyroid cell cultures. Control of transcription by 1,25-(OH)2D is believed to be mediated by interaction of this hormone with a specific receptor within target cells. We have examined the 1,25-(OH)2D receptor in parathyroid glands from normal dogs and chronic renal failure dogs. The levels of receptor were fourfould lower in parathyroid extracts from these uremic dogs than in those from normal dogs (109 ± 11 vs 446 ± 61 fmol/mg protein). No differences were observed in the binding affinity for 1,25-(OH)2D or in the sedimentation in sucrose density gradients. Since this receptor has been shown to be upregulated by 1,25-(OH)2D, our findings of lower levels of receptor could be attribed to decreased serum concentrations of 1,25-(OH)2D in chronically uremic animals. Regression analysis of log serum 1,25-(OH)2D versus log receptor content yielded a correlation coefficient of 0.62 with P < 0.02. Decreased receptor content showed a negative correlation with serum N-terminal PTH (r = 0.71 and P < 0.01). It is likely that this reduced 1,25-(OH)2D receptor number in the parathyroid glands of chronically uremic animals renders the glands less responsive to the inhibitory action of 1,25-(OH)2D on the synthesis and secretion of PTH, and may contribute to the hyperparathyroidism associated with chronic renal failure.