Adrenomedullin (AM) is a recently identified amidated peptide produced by a variety of tissue types. We have investigated the involvement of AM and its receptor (AM-R) in developing mouse mammary glands and have examined what influence ovarian hormones have on AM and AM-R expression in this system. Tissues from ductal morphogenesis, virgin adult, pregnancy, and lactation stages were assessed for AM and AM-R by molecular, biochemical and immunohistochemical techniques. Results from these studies indicated that messenger RNA for AM and AM-R and immunoreactivity for AM were expressed in the luminal epithelium of small and large ducts and in terminal end buds. Immunoreactive AM was identified as a cytoplasm component of ductal cells, with some cells also having nuclear staining. Western blot analysis of mammary gland tissues yielded two molecular mass species (M(r) 14,000 and 18,500) of AM immunoreactivity in the mammary gland for the above developmental stages, consistent with processed intermediate and prohormone forms respectively. Ovariectomy alone or followed by hormonal treatments did not alter the expression pattern for these two proteins. By Western blot, the fully processed AM form (M(r) 6000) was identified in milk extracts from lactating glands. These data suggest a potential role for AM and its receptor in the maintenance of mammary gland homeostasis and suggests a potential role for AM in development of the newborn.