Nestin is a recently discovered intermediate filament (IF) gene. Nestin expression has been extensively used as a marker for central nervous system (CNS) progenitor cells in different contexts, based on observations indicating a correlation between nestin expression and this cell type in vivo. To evaluate this correlation in more detail nestin mRNA expression in developing and adult mouse CNS was analysed by in situ hybridization. We find that nestin is expressed from embryonic day (E) 7.75 and that expression is detected in many proliferating CNS regions: at E10.5 nestin is expressed in cells of both the rostral and caudal neural tube, including the radial glial cells; at E15.5 and postnatal day (P) 0 expression is observed largely in the developing cerebellum and in the ventricular and subventricular areas of the developing telencephalon. Furthermore, the transition from a proliferating to a post-mitotic cell state is accompanied by a rapid decrease in nestin mRNA for motor neurons in the ventral spinal cord and for neurons in the marginal layer of developing telencephalon. In contrast to these data we observe two proliferating areas, the olfactory epithelium and the precursor cells of the hippocampal granule neurons, which do not express nestin at detectable levels. Thus, nestin mRNA expression correlates with many, but not all, regions of proliferating CNS progenitor cells. In addition to its temporal and spatial regulation nestin expression also appears to be regulated at the level of subcellular mRNA localization: in columnar neuroepithelial and radial glial cells nestin mRNA is predominantly localized to the pial endfeet.