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MDR-1 gene product mediated multidrug resistance is thought to play a major role in the outcome of chemotherapy in some canine tumors, especially malignant lymphoma. In the present study, MDR-1 RNA expression in normal lymph node and liver tissue as well as in tumor biopsies from 23 dogs with lymphomas and two dogs with liver tumors was measured by real-time RT-quantitative PCR. MDR-1 gene expression was detected in all samples analyzed. Comparably high MDR-1 RNA levels were measured in all normal liver tissues, one of the lymphomas and a cholangiocarcinoma. MDR-1 expression levels in canine lymphomas were found to vary over a wide range with most tumors expressing relative low levels. Interestingly, gastrointestinal lymphomas expressed higher MDR-1 RNA levels than multicentric lymphomas (p = 0.03). In conclusion, real-time RT-quantitative PCR appears to be a suitable method for sensitive and quantitative determination of MDR-1 gene expression in canine normal and neoplastic tissues.