Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are a family of enzymes which regulate the acetylation state of nucleosomal histones, as well as non-histone proteins. By altering local chromatin architecture, HDACs play important roles in shaping cell differentiation and morphogenesis. Expression of class I HDACs during early chick development has so far not been analyzed. Here, we report the expression profile of chick class I HDACs from the onset of gastrulation (HH2) to day 4 of development and compare it to relevant stages during mouse development. Visualized by in situ hybridization to whole mount embryos and tissue sections, we found tissue-specific overlapping temporal and spatial expression domains for all four class I HDACs in chick and mouse, although species-specific differences could be identified. All class I HDACs in both species are highly expressed in the developing brain. In particular, HDAC1 is expressed at sites of anterior and posterior neural tube closure most obvious in the hot spot-like expression of HDAC1 in HH12 chicken embryos. A significant species-specific spatio-temporal expression pattern was observed for HDAC8. Whereas HDAC8 is exclusively found in fore- and midbrain regions during early mouse embryogenesis, the chick ortholog shows an expanded expression pattern, suggesting a more diversified role of HDAC8 in the chick system. Our results present a basis for further functional analysis of class I HDACs in chick development.