The SmN protein is a component of small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particles and is closely related to the ubiquitous SmB and B' splicing proteins. It is expressed in a limited range of tissues and cell types, including several undifferentiated embryonal carcinoma cell lines and undifferentiated embryonic stem cells. The protein declines to undetectable levels when embryonal carcinoma or embryonic stem cells are induced to differentiate, producing primitive endoderm or parietal endoderm or yielding embryonal bodies. This decline is due to a corresponding decrease in the level of the SmN mRNA. The potential role of SmN in the regulation of alternative splicing in embryonic cell lines and early embryos is discussed.