The Drosophila Achaete-Scute Complex genes encode transcriptional regulators belonging to the basic-helix-loop-helix family which control early steps of development of the central and peripheral nervous systems. We have isolated two mouse homologues of Achaete-Scute Complex genes, Mash-1 and Mash-2, by using the conservation of the basic-helix-loop-helix domain in this family. In this article, we analyse the expression of Mash-1 from its onset during neurulation to adult stages by RNA in situ hybridization on whole mounts and sections. As was observed for the rat Mash-1 protein, mouse Mash-1 RNA expression is restricted to cells of the developing central and peripheral nervous systems. We have observed three successive phases in the distribution of Mash-1 transcripts in the developing central nervous system. Initially, between embryonic day 8.5 and 10.5, Mash-1 transcripts are found in restricted domains in the neuroepithelium of the midbrain and ventral forebrain, as well as in the spinal cord. Between embryonic day 10.5 and 12.5, Mash-1 expression pattern changes from a restricted to a widespread one. Mash-1 transcripts are then found at variable levels in the ventricular zone in all regions of the brain. From embryonic day 12.5 to post-natal stages, Mash-1 is also expressed in cells outside of the ventricular zone throughout the brain. In addition, Mash-1 is expressed during development of the olfactory epithelium and neural retina. Overall, its expression pattern suggest that Mash-1 plays a role at early stages of development of specific neural lineages in most regions of the central nervous system and of several lineages in the peripheral nervous system. We have also compared the expression of Mash-1 and mouse Notch because their Drosophila homologues have been shown to interact genetically. The two genes show very similar expression patterns, both spatially and temporally, in the early developing brain and in the retina, suggesting that both genes may participate in the development of the same neural lineages.