Retinoic acid signaling is important for patterning the central nervous system, paired appendages, digestive tract, and other organs. To begin to investigate retinoic acid signaling in zebrafish, we determined orthologies between zebrafish and tetrapod retinoic acid receptors (Rars) and examined the expression patterns of rar genes during embryonic development. Analysis of phylogenies and conserved syntenies showed that the three cloned zebrafish rar genes include raraa and rarab, which are co-orthologs of tetrapod Rara, and rarg, which is the zebrafish ortholog of tetrapod Rarg. We did not, however, find an ortholog of Rarb. RNA in situ hybridization experiments showed that rarab and rarg, are maternally expressed. Zygotic expression of raraa occurs predominantly in the hindbrain, lateral mesoderm, and tailbud. Zygotic expression of rarab largely overlaps that of raraa, except that in later stages rarab is expressed more broadly in the brain and in the pectoral fin bud and pharyngeal arches. Zygotic expression of zebrafish rarg also overlaps the other two genes, but it is expressed more strongly in the posterior hindbrain beginning in late somitogenesis as well as in neural crest cells in the pharyngeal arches. Thus, these three genes have largely overlapping expression patterns and a few gene-specific expression domains. Knowledge of these expression patterns will guide the interpretation of the roles these genes play in development.