The Zic genes are the vertebrate homologues of the Drosophila pair rule gene odd-paired. It has been proposed that Zic genes play several roles during neural development including mediolateral segmentation of the neural plate, neural crest induction, and inhibition of neurogenesis. Initially during mouse neural development Zic2 is expressed throughout the neural plate while later on expression in the neurectoderm becomes restricted to the lateral region of the neural plate. A hypomorphic allele of Zic2 has demonstrated that in the mouse Zic2 is required for the timing of neurulation. We have isolated a new allele of Zic2 that behaves as a loss of function allele. Analysis of this mutant reveals two further functions for Zic2 during early neural development. Mutation of Zic2 results in a delay of neural crest production and a decrease in the number of neural crest cells that are produced. These defects are independent of mediolateral segmentation of the neurectoderm and of dorsal neurectoderm proliferation, both of which occur normally in the mutant embryos. Additionally Zic2 is required during hindbrain patterning for the normal development of rhombomeres 3 and 5. This work provides the first genetic evidence that the Zic genes are involved in neural crest production and the first demonstration that Zic2 functions during hindbrain patterning.