[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To verify the concept that cell-free organ/tissue-specific mRNAs leaking from drug-damaged organs/tissues into peripheral blood could be toxicological biomarkers for identification of the target organs of drug toxicity, we attempted to detect liver-specific mRNAs in peripheral blood from rats with chemical-induced hepatotoxicity. We selected alpha(1)-microglobulin/bikunin precursor (Ambp) and albumin mRNAs as tentative liver-specific biomarkers and successfully detected them by reverse transcription (RT)-PCR in peripheral blood 24 h after D-galactosamine HCl (D-gal) or acetaminophen administration. Moreover, albumin mRNA was detected 2 h after D-gal administration, although plasma alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels were still unchanged. On the other hand, in peripheral blood from rat with bupivacaine HCl-induced skeletal muscle damage, neither Ambp nor albumin mRNA was detectable while plasma creatine kinase, ALT, and AST levels prominently increased 2 or 12 h after dosing. Furthermore, Ambp mRNA was also detectable in filtered plasma from rats with liver damage, indicating that cell-free Ambp mRNA can be present in peripheral blood. In conclusion, cell-free, liver-specific Ambp, and albumin mRNAs were detectable in peripheral blood from rats with chemical-induced liver damage. It is believed that the detection of cell-free organ/tissue-specific mRNA in peripheral blood is a promising approach in the survey of toxicological biomarkers.