Here we describe the isolation and characterization of a new chicken homeobox-containing gene, G-Hox 7, which is related to Drosophila msh. The deduced amino acid sequence of the cDNA shows greater than 96% homology to the homeo domain of other vertebrate msh-like genes. As for other species, the amino and carboxy termini of the protein are, however, greatly divergent when compared phylogenetically. In situ hybridization studies revealed the early and wide-spread expression of G-Hox 7 during chick development. This includes its expression in the primitive streak and extraembryonic cells undergoing epiboly, and its expression along the neural axis, including the forebrain. Expression was also observed in the neural crest, neural crest-derived facial and branchial structures, the otocyst, limb, and heart valves. This widespread and recurrent expression of the transcript suggests that the gene may play an essential role at multiple sites during the initiation of new developmental pathways.