The Drosophila gene nanos encodes two particular zinc finger motifs which are also found in germline-associated factors from nematodes to vertebrates. We cloned two nanos (nos)-related genes, Cnnos1 and Cnnos2 from Hydra magnipapillata. Using whole-mount in situ hybridization, the expression of Cnnos1 and Cnnos2 was examined. Cnnos1 was specifically expressed in multipotent stem cells and germline cells, but not in somatic cells. Cnnos2 was weakly expressed in germline cells and more specifically in the endoderm of the hypostome where it appears to be involved in head morphogenesis. In addition to structural conservation in the zinc finger domain of nanos-related genes, functional conservation of Cnnos1 was also demonstrated by the finding that a Cnnos1 transgene can partially rescue the nosRC phenotype that is defective in the egg production of Drosophila. Thus, the function of nanos-related genes in the germline appears to be well conserved from primitive to highly evolved metazoans.