Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is known to influence emotional processing and decreased NPY levels have been associated with mood and anxiety disorders. Alternative splicing of pre-messenger RNA is a cellular mechanism that allows for transcriptome diversity, yet there is limited knowledge in this respect with regard to Npy. Since the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex play an important role in affective disorders, we investigated alternative splicing of Npy in these regions of a rat model of depression (Flinders Sensitive Line, FSL) and its controls (Flinders Resistant Line, FRL). The existence of different Npy messenger RNA (mRNA) variants was examined using 5' and 3' RACE. In addition to the Npy mRNA species annotated in GenBank and Ensembl, we identified a novel short mRNA splice variant. Immunoblotting results argued against a putative translation of this short mRNA into protein in brain tissue. Compared to the FRL, the FSL had reduced short Npy mRNA levels in the HIP (P = 0.00014) and the PFC (P = 0.016). Gene expression analyses in five brain regions of an outbred rat strain supported the presence of the short Npy transcript in all examined regions and showed that it is expressed in similar to 2.4-fold lower levels than the long Npy mRNA. Finally, sequencing of the 5' RACE products revealed a transcription start site of Npy that is different from the currently annotated position. These data add to the characterization of the rat Npy mRNA and demonstrate the presence of a novel transcript with a so far unknown function.