The Six4/AREC3 gene was originally isolated as a regulatory factor which bound to the positive regulatory region of the Na, K-ATPase alpha 1 subunit. It is a murine homologue of the Drosophila sine oculis (so) gene, which is essential for the development of the entire insect visual system. In this study, we attempted to determine the localization of the Six4/AREC3 gene product in the developing mouse retina in order to examine its role in retinal cell differentiation. Immunohistochemistry with anti-SIX4/AREC3 and anti-Na, K-ATPase alpha 1 subunit antisera was performed on developing mouse retinas, and immunoblotting analysis with anti-SIX4/AREC3 was also performed. The localization of Six4-like immunoreactivity (Six4-LI) showed a temporally regulated pattern: During embryonic development, Six4-LI was found in the nuclei of cells located at the inner neuroblastic layer of the retina as early as on ED12, nearly corresponding to the onset of retinal cell differentiation. In the PD1 retina, Six4-LI was observed in the nuclei of the ganglion cells, and increased its intensity until PD4, and thereafter kept its intensity until PD7 when Six4-LI was often found in the cytoplasm. On PD4, the presumptive amacrine cells found in the inner portion of the inner nuclear layer appeared to be immunostained in their nuclei. On PD7, the presumptive bipolar cells located in the outer portion were immunostained in the nuclei. After that, Six4-LI gradually decreased, and in the mature retina no detectable Six4-LI was observed in the nuclei. This pattern of Six4-LI localization during retinal development seemed to correlate with retinal cell differentiation, but did not correlate with the distribution pattern of Na, K-ATPase alpha 1 subunit protein-like immunoreactivity. These results suggest that the Six4 gene may play a role in the differentiation of neural retinal cells during mouse retinal development, rather than regulating the expression of the Na, K-ATPase alpha 1 subunit gene.