All-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA), the primary active metabolite of vitamin A, was examined for its antiestrogenic activity in rats using an in vivo uterotrophic assay. All rats were ovariectomized 2 weeks prior to receiving 5 mg/kg/day ATRA or 0.3 μg/kg/day ethynyl estradiol (EE) subcutaneously once a day for 3 consecutive days. Rats were sacrificed 1, 3, 6, 12 or 24 h after the last treatment. EE increased uterine weight and the coinjection of ATRA with EE significantly suppressed this effect 3 and 24 h after treatment. mRNA expression was examined during this 24-h period and the mRNA expression levels of estrogen receptor α (ER α), retinoic acid receptor β (RAR β), retinoid X receptor γ (RXR γ) and cellular retinol-binding protein I (CRBP I) were found to have significantly increased in the ATRA + EE group compared with those in the EE group. This is the first report on the antiestrogenic activity of ATRA determined using an in vivo adult rat uterotrophic assay. The up-regulation of RAR or RXR mRNA expression level was probably responsible for the antiestrogenic activity of ATRA.