The mammalian tooth develops through an interaction between two tissue layers of different embryologic origin. A number of transcription factors and as well as two members of the Msx class of homeobox genes have been shown to be involved in the histogenesis of the mammalian tooth. This raised the possibility that other homeobox genes might be involved in dental morphogenesis. We have amplified mouse tooth germ cDNA from three different gestational ages by the polymerase chain reaction with degenerate primers for 18 classes of homeobox genes. Members of several classes have been isolated, including the Msx genes, two Dlx genes, and the Dbx, MHox, Mox2A genes. One of the Dlx genes, Dlx-7, had not previously been reported in mammals, and some details are presented of its cDNA sequence. This work plus that of other investigators has shown that at least six Dlx genes are expressed in developing teeth or in first branchial arches, suggesting the possibility that these genes are involved in specifying complexity within or between teeth. The screening approach with degenerate primers is a successful way to identify new as well as previously known regulatory genes expressed in developing tooth embryos.