A search for protein tyrosine kinases expressed during murine cardiogenesis resulted in the isolation of a novel tyrosine kinase, designated tek, which maps to mouse chromosome 4 between the brown and pmv-23 loci. The deduced amino acid sequence of tek predicts that it encodes a putative receptor tyrosine kinase that contains a 21 amino acid kinase insert and which is most closely related in its catalytic domains to FGFR1 and the product of the ret proto-oncogene. In situ hybridization analysis of adult tissues, as well as sectioned and whole-mount embryos, showed that tek is specifically expressed in the endocardium, the leptomeninges and the endothelial lining of the vasculature from the earliest stages of their development. Moreover, examination of the morphology of tek-expressing cells, and staging of tek expression relative to that of the endothelial cell marker von Willebrand factor, revealed that tek is expressed prior to von Willebrand factor and appears to mark the embryonic progenitors of mature endothelial cells. tek encodes a novel putative receptor tyrosine kinase that may be critically involved in the determination and/or maintenance of cells of the endothelial lineage.