Abstract: Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) exhibits pronounced effects on the growth rate of cultured mouse embryonic day (E) 9.5 embryos and acts in tissue culture as a potent glial mitogen and neuron survival factor. However, previous studies using immunohistochemistry or in situ hybridization in the rat have not revealed the presence and location of VIP or VIP mRNA in the early developing embryo CNS. Using a sensitive in situ hybridization assay with a 33P-labeled riboprobe, we show here that the VIP gene is expressed at least as early as E11 in the mouse hindbrain. Northern blot analysis on RNA from brain dissected from mouse embryos beginning at E14 confirmed that a correct-size mRNA for VIP was present by E14 and at later time points. Expression of the VIP2 receptor gene was also detected by northern analysis in E14 mouse brains. These studies support the hypothesis that VIP produced by the embryo exerts important effects on embryonic nervous system development.