Bone morphogenetic protein-4 (BMP-4) is a cytokine that belongs to the TGF-beta superfamily. It has been implicated that it plays an important role during embryogenesis including epithelial-mesenchymal interactions and mesenchymal cells condensation. To investigate whether BMP-4 is involved in the embryogenesis of the inner ear, we performed in situ hybridization at various stages of the developing inner ear of mice. BMP-4 mRNA was detected only in the developmental stage. Its initial expression was detected in part of the otic vesicle at 9 days post-coitum (PC). As development proceeded, the hair cells of the cochlear duct were morphologically distinguishable. and BMP-4 expressing cells were found in Claudius cell region at 16 days PC. At this stage, the signal was most intense during development and the structure notably changed under the expressing cells. Mesenchymal cells were assembled and condensed underneath the BMP-4-expressing cells. The basilar membrane, with a rich extracellular matrix and elasticity, would be produced in the area between the Claudius' cells and condensed mesenchymal cells. Previous reports support the notion that BMP-4 expressed in the epithelium causes mesenchymal cell condensation and induces a structure with elasticity. In the developing cochlea. BMP-4 may be involved in the condensation and differentiation of the mesenchymal cells as well as basilar membrane formation. BMP-4 might be an essential factor for the normal development of the basilar membrane.