In mammals, odors are detected by approximately 1000 different types of odorant receptors (ORs), each expressed by a fraction of neurons in the olfactory epithelium. Neurons expressing a given OR are confined to one of four spatial zones but are distributed randomly throughout that zone. In the olfactory bulb, the axons of neurons expressing different ORs synapse at different sites, giving rise to a highly organized and stereotyped information map. An important issue is whether the epithelial and bulbar maps evolve independently or are linked, for example, by retrograde influences of the bulb on the epithelium. Here we examined the onset of expression and patterning of genes encoding ORs and sensory transduction molecules during mouse embryogenesis and in mice lacking olfactory bulbs. Our results argue for an independent development of epithelial and bulbar maps and an early functional development that may be pertinent to pattern development in the olfactory bulb.