Purpose. To study the molecular mechanism underlying retinal development by identifying genes specific to the process. Method. RT-PCR was used to isolate and characterize developmentally regulated genes from embryonic chicken retina. Expression patterns in the retina, brain, heart, kidney, and liver, as well as cultured lymphoma cells, were compared. Exclusion of an early, yet transiently expressed gene from being associated with general cell proliferation was based on a comparison of its expression pattern with that of chromokinesin, a gene specific to proliferating cells. Results. We have identified a developmentally down-regulated gene, named rich. The rich mRNA is abundant in the retina and brain at early developmental stages when active neurogenesis takes place, and diminishes thereafter. Interestingly, rich mRNA is neither detected in cultured lymphoma cells, nor in nonneural tissues including the heart, kidney, and liver, even at early stages when cell proliferation is substantial, as reflected by the presence of chromokinesin mRNA. This indicates that Rich protein is not a generic factor for cell proliferation. Conclusions. rich is a novel gene with both temporal and spatial specificity. Its transient expression in the retina suggests that it may be involved in retinal neurogenesis.