Embryos mutant for the T gene, in mice, make insufficient mesoderm and fail to develop a notochord. We report the cloning and sequencing of the T gene in the zebrafish (Brachydanio rerio) and show the nuclear localization of the protein product. Both RNA and protein are found in cells of the germ ring, including enveloping layer cells, prior to and during gastrulation of zebrafish embryos. Nuclei of the yolk syncytial layer do not express Zf-T. High levels of expression are maintained throughout early development in the notochord, while in paraxial mesoderm cells the gene is turned off during gastrulation. Exposure of animal cap cells to activinA induces Zf-T expression, as does transplantation into the germ ring.