Summary: Using a subtractive hybridisation approach, we enriched for genes likely to play a role in embryonic development of the mammalian face and other structures. This was achieved by subtracting cDNA derived from adult mouse liver from that derived from 10.5 dpc mouse embryonic branchial arches 1 and 2. Random sequencing of clones from the resultant library revealed that a high percentage correspond to genes with a previously established role in embryonic development and disease, while 15% represent novel or uncharacterised genes. Whole mount in situ hybridisation analysis of novel genes revealed that approximately 50% have restricted expression during embryonic development. In addition to expression in branchial arches, these genes showed a range of expression domains commonly including neural tube and somites. Notably, all genes analysed were found to be expressed not only in the branchial arches but also in the developing limb buds, providing support for the hypothesis that development of the limbs and face is likely to involve analogous molecular processes. genesis 35:73–87, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.