The olfactory nervous system of fish, in particular zebrafish, has become a valid model for that of higher vertebrates. However, no genetic markers for olfactory specific cell types, e.g. the olfactory receptor neurons, have been established in this species. Olfactory marker protein (OMP) is a reliable marker for olfactory receptor neurons in several other vertebrates. We have cloned zOMP, the zebrafish homologue of olfactory marker protein. During development, zOMP is expressed exclusively in the olfactory placode, presumably in olfactory receptor neurons, as shown by in situ hybridization. In the adult nasal epithelium zOMP is found restricted to the sensory region. zOMP appears to be a single gene, without close family members. The 5'-flanking region lacks most of the expected regulatory sequence motifs, both general and cell type-specific ones. Nevertheless, it drives reporter gene expression strongly and specifically in olfactory receptor neurons during the whole developmental period examined. Thus the zOMP promoter constitutes a powerful tool which should be useful to selectively introduce a wide variety of genetic modifications into olfactory receptor neurons.