We report the isolation and characterization of the murine homologues to human and chicken lysosome-associated membrane protein (Lamp)-2 transcripts and their prevalent expression patterns during development. Lamp-2 transcripts code for proteins predominant in and specific for the lysosomal membrane. The function of these proteins is still under investigation. Other than in the lysosomal membrane, Lamp-2 proteins have been detected at the plasma membrane of cells in a differentiation dependent and activation dependent manner. They were also observed at the plasma membrane of cells, which secrete lysosomal hydrolases. Involvement of Lamp-2 in cell adhesion during such events has been proposed. A study of the developmental expression patterns of m-Lamp-2 transcripts was undertaken to help elucidate possible functions of their respective proteins. The m-Lamp-2b transcript was prevalent in neural crest derived ganglia. The m-Lamp-2a and -2c transcripts were similarly expressed in structures containing neural crest derived tissue with the strongest signals detected in thymus. However, m-Lamp-2a and -2c transcript expression differed in mesoderm or endoderm derived mesenchymal and epithelial tissues. M-Lamp-2c expression was pronounced in mesenchyme early in development, in limb connective tissue, and in lung parenchyma, whereas m-Lamp-2a was prevalent in the liver, the pancreas, and in differentiating kidney epithelium, and became increasingly prominent in the epithelial lining of the digestive and the respiratory tract during development. These results correlated with the detection of m-Lamp-2 protein in these tissues. In conclusion, all m-Lamp-2 transcripts were detected in tissues undergoing apoptosis during development requiring phagolysosome involvement. In addition, m-Lamp-2a and m-Lamp-2c transcripts were observed in epithelium and mesenchyme during the time of epithelial-mesenchymal interaction, mesenchymal-epithelial transformation, and branching. Their expression pattern became more tissue and cell type specific as differentiation progressed. These patterns indicate a possible involvement of m-Lamp-2 proteins in cell/cell or cell/extracellular matrix interaction, and appear to reflect tissue and cell type specific roles of lysosomes during morphogenesis.