A new member of the mammalian period gene family, mPer3, was isolated and its expression pattern characterized in the mouse brain. Like mPer1, mPer2 and Drosophila period, mPer3 has a dimerization PAS domain and a cytoplasmic localization domain. mPer3 transcripts showed a clear circadian rhythm in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Expression of mPer3 was not induced by exposure to light at any phase of the clock, distinguishing this gene from mPer1 and mPer2. Cycling expression of mPer3 was also found outside the SCN in the organum vasculosum lamina terminalis (OVLT), a potentially key region regulating rhythmic gonadotropin production and pyrogen-induced febrile phenomena. Thus, mPer3 may contribute to pacemaker functions both inside and outside the SCN.