The avian lens is an ideal system to study gap junctional intercellular communication in development and homeostasis. The lens is experimentally more accessible in the developing chick embryo than in other organisms, and chick lens cells differentiate well in primary cultures. However, only two members of the connexin gene family have been identified in the avian lens, whereas three are known in the mammalian system. We report here the molecular cloning and characterization of the third lens connexin, chick connexin45.6 (ChCx45.6), a protein with a predicted molecular mass of 45.6 kDa. ChCx45.6 was encoded by a single copy gene and was expressed specifically in the lens. There were two mRNA species of 6.4 kilobase (kb) and 9.4 kb in length. ChCx45.6 was a functional connexin protein, because expression in Xenopus oocyte pairs resulted in the development of high levels of conductance with a characteristic voltage sensitivity. Antisera were raised against ChCx45.6 and chick connexin56 (ChCx56), another avian lens-specific connexin, permitting the examination of the distribution of both proteins. Immunofluorescence localization showed that both ChCx45.6 and ChCx56 were abundant in lens fibers. Treatment of lens membranes with alkaline phosphatase resulted in electrophoretic mobility shifts, demonstrating that both ChCx45.6 and ChCx56 were phosphoproteins in vivo.