We have investigated the expression of brain beta SpIIa and beta SpIb (previously referred to as the beta-subunits of brain spectrin (240/235) and brain spectrin (240/235E), respectively) during mouse brain development. The 9 kb transcript which encodes beta SpIIa is present in fetal mouse brain tissue and increases to a maximal level in a 30-day-old mouse. There is a coordinate accumulation of the 7.8 kb alpha SpIIa mRNA (with beta SpIIa) during mouse brain development. The coordinate expression of alpha SpIIa and beta SpIIa at the mRNA and protein level allows formation of (alpha SpIIa/beta SpIIa)2 tetramers (brain spectrin(240/235)) early in premitotic neuronal development; and avoids turnover of unassembled alpha and beta-subunits. An 11 kb transcript which encodes beta SpIb is not produced in embryonic tissue, and is first seen in a 6-day-old mouse. The protein translation products beta SpIIa and beta SpIb have previously been demonstrated by our laboratory to first appear in fetal mouse brain tissue and at postnatal day 6-8, respectively [J. Neurosci., 7 (1987) 864-874]. The expression of beta SpIb mRNA on postnatal day 6-8, and the appearance of brain spectrin(240/235E) in postmitotic and postmigratory neurons of the cerebellum at this same time; suggests that brain spectrin(240/235E) is involved in differentiated functions of the neuron (formation of cell-cell contacts, formation of dendritic processes and postsynaptic contacts). Thus, the data from the present study demonstrates that the expression of these two neuronal beta-spectrin isoforms is regulated at the level of mRNA expression.