Motor learning requires protein synthesis within the primary motor cortex (M1). Here, we show that the immediate early gene Arc/Arg3.1 is specifically induced in M1 by learning a motor skill. Arc mRNA was quantified using a fluorescent in situ hybridization assay in adult Long-Evans rats learning a skilled reaching task (SRT), in rats performing reaching-like forelimb movement without learning (ACT) and in rats that were trained in the operant but not the motor elements of the task (controls). Apart from M1, Arc expression was assessed within the rostral motor area (RMA), primary somatosensory cortex (S1), striatum (ST) and cerebellum. In SRT animals, Arc mRNA levels in M1 contralateral to the trained limb were 31% higher than ipsilateral (p<0.001), 31% higher than in the contralateral M1 of ACT animals (p<0.001) and 48% higher than in controls (p<0.001). Arc mRNA expression in SRT was positively correlated with learning success between two sessions (r=0.52; p=0.026). For RMA, S1, ST or cerebellum no significant differences in Arc mRNA expression were found between hemispheres or across behaviors. As Arc expression has been related to different forms of cellular plasticity, these findings suggest a link between M1 Arc expression and motor skill learning in rats.