This paper presents the results of experiments that determine the chromosomal location of the mouse gene encoding CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP) and measure its expression as a function of tissue type and temporal period of development in mice and rats. Three alleles of the C/EBP gene were identified according to restriction fragment length polymorphisms. The strain distribution pattern of the three alleles was determined in recombinant inbred mouse strains and compared to that of other mouse genes. These results mapped the gene to a position within 2.5 centimorgans (cM) of the structural gene encoding glucose phosphate isomerase on chromosome 7 of the mouse. The expression pattern of the C/EBP gene was studied by a combination of nucleic acid hybridization and antibody staining assays. High levels of C/EBP mRNA were observed in tissues known to metabolize lipid and cholesterol-related compounds at uncommonly high rates. These included liver, fat, intestine, lung, adrenal gland, and placenta. More detailed analysis of two of these tissues, liver and fat, showed that C/EBP expression was limited to fully differentiated cells. Moreover, analysis of the temporal pattern of expression of C/EBP mRNA in two tissues, liver and intestine, revealed a coordinated induction just prior to birth. These observations raise the possibility that the synthesis of C/EBP may be responsive to humoral factors and that modulation in C/EBP expression might mediate coordinated changes in gene expression that facilitate adaptive challenges met during development or during the fluctuating physiological states of adult life.