Three principal mineralized tissues are present in teeth; a highly mineralized surface layer (enamel or enameloid), body dentin, and basal bone. Similar tissues have been identified in the dermal skeleton of Paleozoic jawless vertebrates, suggesting their ancient origin. These dental tissues form on protein matrix and their mineralization is controlled by distinctive proteins. We have shown that many secretory calcium-binding phosphoproteins (SCPPs) are involved in tetrapod tissue mineralization. These SCPPs all originated from the common ancestral gene SPARCL1 (secreted protein, acidic, cysteine-rich like 1) that initially arose from SPARC. The SCPP family also includes a bird eggshell matrix protein, mammalian milk casein, and salivary proteins. The eggshell SCPP plays crucial roles in rigid eggshell production, milk SCPPs in efficient lactation and in the evolution of complex dentition, and salivary SCPPs in maintaining tooth integrity. A comparative analysis of the mammalian, avian, and amphibian genomes revealed a tandem duplication history of the SCPP genes in tetrapods. Although these tetrapod SCPP genes are fewer in teleost genomes, independent parallel duplication has created distinct SCPP genes in this lineage. These teleost SCPPs are also used for enameloid and dentin mineralization, implying essential roles of SCPPs for dental tissue mineralization in osteichthyans. However, the SCPPs used for tetrapod enamel and teleost enameloid, as well as tetrapod dentin and teleost dentin, are all different. Thus, the evolution of vertebrate mineralized tissues seems to be explained by phenogenetic drift: while mineralized tissues are retained during vertebrate evolution, the underlying genetic basis has extensively drifted. J. Exp. Zool. (Mol. Dev. Evol.) 306B, 2006. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.