Sensory neurons transduce various stimuli including temperature, pain, and touch from the periphery to the central nervous system. Sensory neuron development is governed by a combination of extracellular cues and specific gene expression. We demonstrated that the transcription factor Sox11 was highly expressed in the developing sensory neurons. To test the function of Sox11, we used a knockin mouse model where the entire coding region of Sox11 was replaced by a LacZ reporter. The ablation of Sox11 caused severe reduction in sensory neuron survival in the trigeminal and dorsal root ganglia, although it did not affect migration of neural crest cells or acquisition of major sensory neuron subtypes. We further demonstrated that ablating Sox11 caused an arrest of axonal outgrowth in vivo and in vitro. This defect could not be fully rescued by blocking cell death. Our data suggest that Sox11 is a key regulator of sensory neuron development. Developmental Dynamics, 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.