A central question in developmental biology is to explain how cells in different regions of an embryo acquire different developmental fates. We have begun to address this question by investigating whether specific RNAs are localized within a frog egg. Differential screening of a cDNA library shows that most maternal RNAs are uniformly distributed along the animal-vegetal axis. However, we find that a rare class of maternal RNAs is localized. cDNA clones of four localized RNAs have been characterized. Three of these cDNAs are derived from maternal RNAs that are concentrated in the animal hemisphere of unfertilized eggs and remain localized through the early blastula stage. One cDNA is derived from a maternal RNA found almost exclusively in the vegetal hemisphere at both stages. These studies show that some informational molecules, specifically RNAs, are localized in eggs and are inherited by particular blastomeres.