To better understand the genetic mechanisms that regulate the formation of the temporal bone, we have characterized the developmental expression pattern of the mouse gene, Brn4/Pou3f4, which plays a central role in bony labyrinth formation. Expression of this gene is initially detected in the ventral aspect of the otic capsule at 10.5 days post coitus (dpc), and correlates with the onset of mesenchymal condensation in the otic capsule. As the otic capsule condenses further and surrounds the entire otic vesicle, the Brn4 gene product is detected throughout the inner ear in the mesenchyme of both the cochlear and vestibular aspects. Early in otic embryogenesis, the Brn4 gene product is localized to the nucleus of the vast majority of cells in which it is expressed. The Brn4 gene product remains nuclear in those regions of the otic capsule that eventually give rise to the mature bony labyrinth. However, the subcellular localization of the Brn4 gene product shifts from strictly nuclear to perinuclear in those regions of the otic capsule that will cavitate to form acellular regions in the temporal bone, such as the scala tympani, scala vestibuli, and the internal auditory meatus. These data provide a detailed analysis of the expression pattern of the Brn4 gene, and provide insight into the role of the Brn4 gene product and its regulation during otic capsule formation.