c-jun and junB are cellular genes related to the viral oncogene v-jun and encode members of the AP-1 transcription factor gene family. These genes have been implicated in the control of the G0/G1 transition in fibroblasts. Here, we have investigated the potential roles of c-jun and junB during fetal growth and organogenesis in the mouse by in situ hybridization analysis of their expression patterns. c-jun expression is detected throughout organogenesis, and transcripts are detected in many tissues, although in restricted cell populations within developing cartilage, gut and the central nervous system (CNS). In cartilage, c-jun expression is associated with rapidly proliferating perichondrial cells, but occurs in postmitotic motor neurones in the CNS. junB expression is initiated between 14.5 and 17.5 days of development, and is restricted to differentiating epidermal cells and endodermal gut epithelium. These data suggest that c-jun and junB have distinct, tissue-specific roles in cell proliferation and differentiation during fetal development.