The notochord, a defining characteristic of the chordate embryo is a critical midline structure required for axial skeletal formation in vertebrates, and acts as a signaling center throughout embryonic development. We utilized the digital differential display program of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, and identified a contig of expressed sequence tags (no. Dr. 83747) from the zebrafish ovary library in Genbank. Full-length cDNA of the identified gene was cloned by 5'- and 3'- RACE, and the resulting sequence was confirmed by polymerase chain reaction and sequencing. The cDNA clone contains 2,505 base pairs and encodes a novel protein of 707 amino acids that shares no significant homology with any known proteins. This gene was expressed in mature oocytes and at the one-cell stage, and persisted until the 5th day of development, as determined by RT-PCR. Transcripts were detected by whole-mount RNA in situ hybridization from the two-cell stage to 72 h of embryonic development. This gene was uniformly distributed from the cleavage stage up to the blastula stage. During early gastrulation, it was present in the dorsal region, and became restricted to the notochord and pectoral fin at 48 and 72 h of embryonic development. Based on its abundance in the notochord, we hypothesized that the novel gene may play an important role in notochord development in zebrafish; we named this gene, zebrafish notochord-related gene, or znrg.