The medaka homolog of the Drosophila vasa gene, olvas (Oryzias latipes vas) was obtained using polymerase chain reaction of medaka cDNA from the testis and ovary. The spatio-temporal expression pattern of olvas transcripts was observed by in situ hybridization on gonads and embryos. The transcripts for olvas were exclusively detected in the cytoplasm of germ cells in the testis and ovary, not in gonadal somatic cells. In the early developmental stages, each blastomere possessed the maternal transcripts of olvas, which disappeared during gastrula stages. At the late gastrula stage, specific expression of olvas was observed only in germline cells located at the posterior shield. Embryos after the hybridization were examined histologically, and the distribution and migration path of primordial germ cells (PGC) during early stages of embryonic-body formation were revealed using the olvas gene as a germline cell marker. The PGC were translocated from the posterior shield to both sides of the embryonic body via the inner embryonic body in the medaka.