Recent findings suggest that the vitronectin receptor, a member of the integrin family, plays an important role in the attachment of osteoclasts to bone matrix. We report here the localization by in situ hybridization of the mRNA for the α and β subunits of the vitronectin receptor in rat bone sections. To generate the rat‐specific RNA probes used in this study, we cloned cDNA fragments of integrin chains αv, β3, and β5 by the polymerase chain reaction from rat cDNA. These fragments share 86–91% homology with the respective human sequences. In situ hybridization localized the αv and β3 mRNAs to regions undergoing extensive bone resorption. The histologic appearance and prestaining of bone sections for tartrate‐resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) indicated the presence of these mRNAs in osteoclasts. These observations support immunohis‐tochemical findings that osteoclasts express high levels of the vitronectin receptor, confirm the identity of this receptor as integrin αv/β3, and suggest that osteoclasts may actively synthesize these molecules.