RNA synthesis in the venom glands of Crotalus durissus terrificus was stimulated by the manual extraction of the venom (milking). RNA was extracted from venom glands activated by milking and fractionated by centrifugation through sucrose density gradients. Template activity for protein synthesis and base composition of the RNA fractions were studied. RNA fractions that sediment between 18S and 4S had the highest template activity. The base composition analysis indicated that the 28S and 18S rRNA have a C+G content of 65.4 and 58% respectively. The `melting' temperature (Tm) of DNA in 0.15m-NaCl–0.015m-trisodium citrate, pH7.0, was 85°C, corresponding to a C+G content of 38%. The base ratio of the RNA fractions that showed a high template activity was intermediate between that of rRNA and homologous DNA. The possible role of these fractions in the synthesis of the two main toxins (crotoxin and crotamine) of the South American rattlesnake's venom is discussed.

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