Decreased amounts of the serum copper-binding protein caeruloplasmin (hypocaeruloplasminaemia) are one of the characteristic abnormalities of copper metabolism that are found in all neonatal mammals. In the present study we have investigated the mechanism responsible for hypocaeruloplasminaemia found in neonatal guinea pigs. Northern-blot analysis of guinea-pig liver RNA revealed the presence of two caeruloplasmin mRNA species. A marked developmental change in expression was observed, with no detectable mRNA before birth, when hepatic copper is elevated. Expression was initiated soon after birth, when copper levels in the liver are falling, and was closely linked to the rise in enzymic activity and protein levels in serum. There was no differential regulation of the two mRNA species; however, a marked inter-animal variation in mRNA levels was observed. Using gel-filtration chromatography we were able to show that, before birth, serum copper was associated with a low-molecular-mass species and that, with the advent of expression of the caeruloplasmin gene after birth, copper was increasingly associated with caeruloplasmin.