It has been suggested, on a theoretical basis, that a reaction-diffusion (RD) mechanism underlies pigment pattern formation in animals, but as yet, there is no molecular evidence for the putative mechanism. Mutations in the zebrafish gene, leopard, change the pattern from stripes to spots. Interestingly each allele gives a characteristic pattern, which varies in spot size, density and connectivity. That mutations in a single gene can generate such a variety of patterns can be understood using a RD model. All the pattern variations of leopard mutants can be generated in a simulation by changing a parameter value that corresponds to the reaction kinetics in a putative RD system. Substituting an intermediate value of the parameter makes the patterns similar to the heterozygous fish. These results suggest that the leopard gene product is a component of the putative RD mechanism.