The HMGI protein family includes three proteins, named HMG-I, HMG-Y and HMGI-C. The first two proteins are coded for by the same gene, HMGI (Y), through an alternative splicing mechanism. Their expression is elevated in neoplastic tissues and cells and this overexpression has a causal role in the process of cellular neoplastic transformation. We demonstrate that the HMGI (Y) gene is expressed at very low levels in normal adult tissues, whereas in embryonic tissues it is expressed at high levels comparable to those detected in neoplastic tissues. Specifically, a very high expression of the HMGI (Y) gene was detected in all embryonic tissues at 8.5 dpc. Then in the following days, even though the gene is expressed essentially in all tissues, an abundant gene expression was restricted to some tissues. These results indicate an important role of the HMGI (Y) gene in development.