Xenopus oocytes were used to express polyadenylated messenger RNAs (mRNAs) encoding acetylcholine receptors and voltage-activated sodium channels from innervated and denervated skeletal muscles of cat and rat. Oocytes injected with mRNA from denervated muscle acquired high sensitivity to acetylcholine, whereas those injected with mRNA from innervated muscle showed virtually no response. Hence the amount of translationally active mRNA encoding acetylcholine receptors appears to be very low in normally innervated muscle, but increases greatly after denervation. Conversely, voltage-activated sodium currents induced by mRNA from innervated muscle were about three times larger than those from denervated muscle; this result suggests that innervated muscle contains more mRNA coding for sodium channels. The sodium current induced by mRNA from denervated muscle was relatively more resistant to block by tetrodotoxin. Thus a proportion of the sodium channels in denervated muscle may be encoded by mRNAs different from those encoding the normal channels.