We examined the codon usages in well-conserved and less-well-conserved regions of vertebrate protein genes and found them to be similar. Despite this similarity, there is a statistically significant decrease in codon bias in the less-well-conserved regions. Our analysis suggests that although those codon changes initially fixed under amino acid replacements tend to follow the overall codon usage pattern, they also reduce the bias in codon usage. This decrease in codon bias leads one to predict that the rate of change of synonymous codons should be greater in those regions that are less well conserved at the amino acid level than in the better-conserved regions. Our analysis supports this prediction. Furthermore, we demonstrate a significantly elevated rate of change of synonymous codons among the adjacent codons 5' to amino acid replacement positions. This provides further support for the idea that there are contextual constraints on the choice of synonymous codons in eukaryotes.