FGFs (fibroblast growth factors) play major roles in a number of developmental processes. Recent studies of several human disorders, and concurrent analysis of gene knock-out and properties of the corresponding recombinant proteins have shown that FGFs and their receptors are prominently involved in the development of the skeletal system in mammals. We have compared the sequences of the nine known mammalian FGFs, FGFs from other vertebrates, and three additional sequences that we extracted from existing databases: two human FGF sequences that we tentatively designated FGF10 and FGF11, and an FGF sequence from Caenorhabditis elegans. Similarly, we have compared the sequences of the four FGF receptor paralogs found in chordates with four non-chordate FGF receptors, including one recently identified in C. elegans. The comparison of FGF and FGF receptor sequences in vertebrates and nonvertebrates shows that the FGF and FGF receptor families have evolved through phases of gene duplications, one of which may have coincided with the emergence of vertebrates, in relation with their new system of body scaffold.