Unlike mammals, avian circadian rhythms are regulated by a multiple oscillatory system consisting of the retina, the pineal and the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus. To understand avian circadian system, we have cloned Clock and Period homologs (qClock, qPer2 and qPer3) and characterized these genes in Japanese quail. Overall, qCLOCK, qPER2 and qPER3 showed approximately 79%, approximately 46% and approximately 33% amino acid identity to mCLOCK, mPER2, mPER3, respectively. Clock was mapped to quail chromosome 4 and chicken chromosome 4q1.6-q2.1. Per2 and Per3 genes were both localized to microchromosomes. qClock mRNA was expressed throughout the day, while qPer2 and qPer3 showed robust circadian oscillation in the eye and the pineal gland. All three genes were expressed in various tissues. In addition, qPer2 mRNA was induced by light, but neither qClock nor qPer3 was induced. These results can explain the molecular basis for circadian entrainment in Japanese quail and also provide new avenues for molecular understanding of avian circadian clock and photoperiodism.