Mammalian cadherin-6 (K-cadherin, cad6) was originally identified by means of the polymerase chain reaction, but its biological functions have not yet been determined. We analyzed the expression pattern of the mouse homologue of this cadherin during development and found that it was transiently expressed in restricted rhombomeres and in other subdivisions of the neural plate and tube. In the midbrain and anterior hindbrain of E8.0-8.5 embryos, cad6 was expressed only in neural crest-generating regions. In contrast, in the posterior hindbrain and contiguous spinal cord of these embryos, cad6 occurred throughout the neural plate, forming a sharp anterior limit at the future rhombomere 4 and 5 boundary. Subsequently, this neural plate expression became confined to rhombomere 6, although most of the neural crest-generating areas remained positive throughout the body. Neural crest cells expressing cad6 migrated out of the neural tube, and subsequently accumulated mainly along peripheral nerves. We then studied the effect of Hoxa-1 mutation on the expression of cad6, as their expressions spatiotemporally overlapped with each other in the early posterior hindbrain. In E8.0-8.5 Hoxa-1 mutants, cad6 expression was suppressed in the region of rhombomeres 4 to 6, although that in the other regions was not essentially affected. At later stages, however, cad6-positive crest cells appeared and migrated out of rhombomeres 4 to 6, indicating that the suppression of cad6 expression was transient and restricted to early stages. Importantly, this effect of the Hoxa-1 mutation concurred with the timing of the expression of this gene. We also studied Hoxa-3 mutants, but found no effect of this mutation on the cad6 expression pattern. These findings suggest that cad6 may contribute to the formation of the segmental structure of the early brain through its ability to confer specific adhesiveness on cells and that Hoxa-1 may be required for early cad6 expression in the posterior hindbrain.