The 22-kilodalton glycoprotein, expressed in the rat ventral prostate under the influence of androgens, is structurally a cystatin-related protein (CRP), as has been shown by copy DNA sequencing. In fact, two slightly different forms (CRP-1 and CRP-2) are expressed in the prostate; one of them (CRP-1) is also expressed in the exorbital lacrymal gland. In both glands, the CRP-1 messenger RNA (mRNA)s are androgen regulated. Moreover, androgens also influence the size of these mRNAs, which show marked heterogeneity (from 760-950 nucleotides). Indeed, the smaller forms are predominant in castrated animals, whereas the large forms are observed immediately after androgen induction. Hybridization with oligo(dT) followed by ribonuclease H treatment revealed that differences in length of the poly(A)-tail are responsible for this effect of androgens. Indeed, two well defined forms of CRP mRNA subsisted after removal of the poly(A)-tail by this treatment. In the less abundant shorter form (CRP-1 delta), 123 nucleotides are deleted by alternative splicing at the junction between the third and the fourth exon. The variant mRNA encodes a truncated protein, wherein the last 27 amino acids are replaced by a hydrophobic stretch of 8 amino acids. No alternative splicing was observed for the CRP-2 mRNA.