Using the teleost Oryzias latipes (medaka), we isolated three embryonic globin cDNAs (em.alpha-0, em.alpha-1, and em.beta-1) from the embryos 5 days after fertilization (at 30 degrees C) and two adult globin cDNAs (ad.alpha-1 and ad.beta-1) from the kidney of the fully-grown adult fish, and predicted their amino acid sequences. Molecular phylogenetic analysis showed that the embryonic globins were highly homologous in amino acid sequence to the embryonic globins previously identified in rainbow trout and zebrafish, and that they formed a monophyletic group among the teleostean globin molecules. They were clearly discriminated from the adult globin of the medaka. RT-PCR analysis showed that the embryonic globin mRNAs were intensely expressed in stage 30 and 38 embryos and in young fish 30 days after hatching. The level of expression decreased drastically after the young fish stage, and was low in fully-grown adult fish. The adult alpha globin mRNA ad.alpha-1 was scarcely expressed in the embryos, and the level of expression gradually increased in young to fully-grown adult fish. Unexpectedly, the adult beta globin mRNA ad.beta-1 was expressed throughout life, from the early embryonic stage to the fully-grown adult stage. This expression profile was quite different from that of the rainbow trout previously investigated. Some globins of the medaka were expressed both in primitive hematopoiesis and in definitive hematopoiesis.