This study analyzes the temporal and spatial expression pattern of Fgf-8 over a continuous series of developmental stages. Special emphasis is laid on the paraxial mesoderm where Fgf-8 expression is highly dynamic. Whereas the anterior portion of the unsegmented mesoderm is devoid of expression, Fgf-8 is upregulated in the posterior half of a newly formed somite. Soon after somite formation, this highly localized expression gives way to a more diffuse pattern of Fgf-8 expression at low levels in presumptive sclerotomal cells. During later somite maturation, transcripts become restricted to the myotome. Co-staining with the myotome marker MyoD reveals that Fgf-8 expression defines a subpopulation of muscle precursor cells.