In a search for determinants of positional information in the embryonic eye, we isolated two monoclonal antibodies that label strongly the dorsal part of the undifferentiated embryonic retina in mammals, bird and cold-blooded vertebrates. In the chick, the optic tectum is labeled in a corresponding fashion, the ventral tectum more heavily than the dorsal tectum. Through biochemical and molecular analysis both antibodies were found to recognize a protein that has been cloned repeatedly, first in a screen with antibodies to the ‘68K-laminin receptor’ (Wewer et al. (1986) Cancer Res. 47, 5691–5698), a name that may not exhaustively describe its function. Western blots show the protein to be present in most or all tissues, and Western and Southern blots reveal a high degree of conservation in the detected signals up to invertebrates and bacteria. Despite the very strong and selective labeling of the dorsal retina in conventional immunohistochemical preparations, the protein and its mRNA are present in even amounts throughout the embryonic retina, as demonstrated by Western and Northern blots of bisected retinas, and immunohistochemically in retinas fixed with ethylene glycole bissuccinimide (EGS), an NH2-group crosslinker with very long spacer arm. This indicates that the dorsoventral asymmetry in the embryonic retina is not in the amount but in the configuration of this protein; whether this difference relates to laminin binding is not known.