NOV, located on human chromosome 8q24.1, was originally cloned following discovery of its avian homolog as a consequence of over-expression in virally induced nephroblastoma. The gene product is a secreted, modular, protein and a member of the CCN gene family. Evidence to date indicates that the expression of the wild type protein is associated with cellular quiescence in normal embryonic fibroblasts yet produces growth stimulatory effects on established murine NIH 3T3 cells. Here we report the expression of NOV in the first trimester of human embryogenesis, between 5 and 10 weeks. In situ hybridisation and immunohistochemistry reveal widespread expression in derivatives of all three germ layers. The most abundant sites of expression are in the motor neurons and floor plate of the spinal cord, adrenal cortex, fusing skeletal, and smooth muscle, the urogenital system and the developing heart. Additionally, expression is seen in the cranial ganglia, differentiating chondrocytes, gonads, and lung. The sites of expression suggest strongly that autocrine or paracrine expression of NOV is associated with the process of cell differentiation.