The LIM-only family of proteins comprises four members; two of these (LMO1 and LMO2) are involved in human T-cell leukemia via chromosomal translocations, and LMO2 is a master regulator of hematopoiesis. We have carried out gene targeting of the other members of the LIM-only family, viz., genes Lmo1, Lmo3 and Lmo4, to investigate their role in mouse development. None of these genes has an obligatory role in lymphopoiesis. In addition, while null mutations of Lmo1 or Lmo3 have no discernible phenotype, null mutation of Lmo4 alone causes perinatal lethality due to a severe neural tube defect which occurs in the form of anencephaly or exencephaly. Since the Lmo1 and Lmo3 gene sequences are highly related and have partly overlapping expression domains, we assessed the effect of compound Lmo1/Lmo3 null mutations. Although no anatomical defects were apparent in compound null pups, these animals also die within 24 h of birth, suggesting that a compensation between the related Lmo1 and 3 proteins can occur during embryogenesis to negate the individual loss of these genes. Our results complete the gene targeting of the LIM-only family in mice and suggest that all four members of this family are important in regulators of distinct developmental pathways.