The transcription factor GATA-3 is expressed at every stage of thymic development, but its role in thymocyte differentiation is unknown. The fact that RAG chimeric animals lacking GATA-3 cannot generate early thymocytes from common lymphoid progenitors has thus far precluded investigation of the function of GATA-3 in the thymus. To address this, we generated mice deficient in GATA-3 at early and late stages of thymic differentiation. Our studies revealed that GATA-3 is involved in beta selection and is indispensable for single-positive CD4 thymocyte development. Thus, our data demonstrate that the coordinated and regulated expression of GATA-3 at each stage of thymic development is critical for the generation of mature T cells.