The cellular retinoic acid-binding protein 2 (CRABP2) is believed to be involved in regulating access of retinoic acid to nuclear retinoic acid receptors. We have determined the cDNA sequence and the genomic organization of the duplicated crabp2 gene (crabp2b) in zebrafish. The crabp2b cDNA was 522bp in length and encodes a polypeptide consisting of 146 amino acids. Radiation hybrid mapping assigned the crabp2b gene to zebrafish linkage group 19. The comparison of the mapped human CRABP2 gene, zebrafish crabp2a and zebrafish crabp2b genes revealed that human chromosome 1 has a syntenic relationship to zebrafish linkage groups 16 and 19. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) detected crabp2b mRNA in total RNA extracted from whole adult zebrafish, but not in any of the adult zebrafish tissues examined. The crabp2a mRNA was detected in total RNA extracted from whole adult zebrafish, adult zebrafish muscle, testes, and skin and to a lesser extent in heart, ovary and brain. No crabp2a mRNA-specific product was detected in kidney, liver or intestine of the adult zebrafish. Whole mount in situ hybridization detected crabp2b and crabp2a mRNA in a number of structures known to require retinoic acid signaling during embryonic development. The crabp2b mRNA was detected in the central nervous system, branchial arches, pectoral fins, retina (dorsal to the lens), epidermis and otic vesicle of the developing zebrafish. The crabp2a transcripts were detected by whole mount in situ hybridization in the central nervous system, epidermis, proliferative zone of the retina, intestinal bulb, oesophagus, pectoral fins and branchial arches during zebrafish embryonic development.