Cadherins are calcium-binding transmembrane glycoproteins that are important mediators of cell-cell association. Here we describe a novel member of this gene family, zebrafish ventral neural cadherin (VN-cad). Multiple VN-cad transcripts are first detectable by Northern blots at 60% epiboly. In the developing neural tube, VN-cad RNA is first found in the neuroectoderm, directly above the notochord, and later was localized to the neural keel. At the 20-somite stage, VN-cad transcripts are confined to the ventral neural tube, otic vesicle, midbrain, and diencephelon. Transcription of VN-cad RNA continues in adult fish. The embryonic pattern of expression is not significantly disrupted in cyclops or no tail mutants, which lack the floor plate and notochord, respectively. Therefore, neither of these structures is absolutely required for VN-cad expression. The localized pattern of VN-cad expression suggests a possible role for this adhesion molecule in the initial formation and subsequent differentiation of the central nervous system.