The alpha receptor of PDGF (Pdgfra) is expressed in primitive endoderm and mesoderm derivatives throughout embryogenesis. In the early primitive streak stage the gene is transcribed in the visceral and parietal endoderm. Later it is expressed in the presomitic mesoderm, yolk sac and amnion. During somitogenesis its transcription localizes to the heart and the somites. Subsequently, it is transcribed in the dermatome, the sclerotome, the developing limb and in various mesenchymal tissues of visceral organs. Its wild-type expression pattern correlates well with the phenotype of homozygous mutant Patch (Ph) embryos, where the Pdgfra gene is deleted. The Ph phenotype is first detectable at the primitive streak stage with convoluted and hypertrophic visceral yolk sac, deformed neural plate and disorganized or missing mesoderm. Most Ph/Ph embryos die before the 11th day of gestation. Those that survive till early organogenesis are very small, have hypertrophic yolk sacs, small and undifferentiated somites, convoluted neural tubes, large heart and pericardium, rudimentary limb buds and branchial arches. Our observations together suggest that the alpha PDGF receptor may be required for the normal development of visceral endoderm and mesoderm derivatives.