ECK is a member of EPH receptor protein-tyrosine kinase subfamily and human B61 has been identified as the ligand for ECK recently. In order to better understand the roles of B61-ECK signalling pathway in mammalian development, we have cloned rat and mouse B61 cDNA and examined the expression pattern during rat development. Sequence analysis has revealed that there is a considerable degree of identity among rat, mouse and human B61 (98.0% between rat and mouse, 86.3% between rat and human in amino acid level). Examination of B61 mRNA expression by in situ hybridization analysis revealed tight association of B61 with endothelial cells at an early stage and epithelial cells in various tissues including lung, kidney, intestine, skin at later stage of organogenesis. In the developing skeletal system, B61 is expressed in periosteum, perichondrium and hypertrophic chondrocytes and osteoblasts. In the developing nervous system, expression of B61 is restricted in the neurons of dorsal root ganglia. These expression profiles of B61 in epithelial cells of various organs, developing skeletal system and dorsal root ganglia match those of ECK. Our data suggest that B61 plays pivotal roles in organogenesis, especially vasculogenesis/angiogenesis and epithelial cell proliferation/differentiation.