Iroquois homeodomain (Irx) transcription factors are encoded by a conserved family of six genes that are found in two clusters of three genes each. Irx proteins are highly conserved, and their expression patterns overlap considerably during embryonic development, suggesting genetically redundant functions. We have identified a highly divergent Irx gene, which we term Iroquois homeobox-like 1 (Irxl1). The chromosomal location of Irxl1 is distinct from the Irx gene clusters. Irxl1 is conserved in most vertebrates, and the deduced amino acid sequence of its protein product predicts a homeodomain that bears significant homology to Irx homeodomains, but is clearly very divergent. We also identified in Irxl1 a divergent Iro box, a motif that is the defining feature of the Irx family. Expression of Irxl1 during mouse embryogenesis was distinct from that of most Irx genes, and was largely restricted to the epaxial and hypaxial components of the somites, limb buds, otic vescicle, craniofacial mesenchyme, retinal ganglion cell layer, and lens. We conclude that Irxl1 is a newly identified highly divergent member of the Irx gene family with specific expression patterns in mouse embryogenesis.