Zebrafish no tectal neuron (ntn) mutant obtained by trimethylpsoralen (TMP) mutagenesis showed defects in tectal neuropil formation and small eyes. We carried out whole-genome subtraction between wild-type and mutant zebrafish embryos using the representational difference analysis (RDA) method. Nineteen subtraction products enabled us to construct genetic and physical maps of the ntn region. Direct selection of cDNAs using a YAC clone encompassing the ntn locus and RT-PCR analysis of transcripts identified a 143 bp deletion in the cct3 gene encoding the gamma subunit of chaperonin containing TCP-1 (CCT). Injection of antisense cct3 morpholino oligonucleotides into zebrafish embryos induced characteristic ntn phenotypes including defects in retinal ganglion cell (RGC) differentiation and tectal neuropil formation. Moreover, injection of cct3 mRNA successfully rescued ntn mutant embryos. Our results suggest that RDA is an efficient and widely applicable cloning strategy in zebrafish genetics. The strong expression of the cct3 mRNA started in the entire embryos by 12 hpf and was sustained thereafter, but there were no detectable abnormalities in body patterning and neurogenesis in ntn mutant embryos at 30 hpf. The expression patterns of transcription factor genes ath5 and brn3b that are essential for the development and maintenance of RGCs were indistinguishable between wild-type and ntn mutant embryos, but those of early and late differentiation markers of RGCs, nicotinic acetylcholine receptor beta 3 and zn5, were diminished in mutant embryos. Immunostaining of acetylated tubulin also revealed the impairment of RGC neurite extension. Thus, the ntn mutation of the cct3 gene impaired the differentiation of retinal neuroepithelial cells to RGCs. Similarly, the expression of brn3b was normal in the tectum of ntn mutants, but tectal neuropil formation was abolished. These results suggest that the gamma subunit of chaperonin CCT plays an essential role in retinotectal development.