We have cloned a fragment of Cyp26B1, a novel retinoic acid (RA) catabolising enzyme, and examined its expression pattern during early stages of chick embryogenesis. It is expressed from stage 7 in the tail bud, an anterior patch of mesenchyme, the heart, the endothelium of the vasculature, the eye, the limb bud, the hindgut and in a complex pattern in the rhombomeres of the hindbrain. As such it has a non-overlapping expression with chick Cyp26A1, the other RA catabolising enzyme, but shows a combination of features of mouse Cyp26A1 and Cyp26B1. We have also examined its expression in the quail embryo and in the RA-free quail embryo. In the absence of RA, Cyp26B1 is only expressed in the hindbrain and fails to be expressed in all the other regions of the embryo, most dramatically in the trunk. Adding back RA rescues Cyp26B1 expression.