The Drosophila homeobox gene tinman and its vertebrate homologs Nkx-2.5 and Nkx-2.3 are critical determinants of cardiac development. We report here the identification of a new tinman-related gene, nkx2.7, as well as orthologs of Nkx-2.5 and Nkx-2.3 in the zebrafish. Analysis of their expression in the developing zebrafish embryo reveals that nkx2.7 transcripts are the first to appear in cardiac mesodermal and pharyngeal endodermal precursors of the anterior hypoblast, anticipating both temporally and spatially the later expression of nkx2.5 and nkx2.3 in these lineages. The preeminence of nkx2.7 in these embryonic lineages is consistent with a key role in cell fate determination, perhaps in part through the induction of nkx2.5 and nkx2.3. The findings provide the first molecular clues as to the spatial organization of endodermal and cardiac mesodermal precursors in the zebrafish hypoblast immediately following gastrulation. They suggest a coordinate role for these three tinman-related genes in the development of the heart and pharyngeal arches, and reinforce the paradigm of gene duplication and subspecialization between Drosophila and vertebrate species. The results provide a framework in which to analyze potential changes in tinman-related gene expression during abnormal zebrafish development.