Abstract Hedgehog genes are involved in pattern formation during embryonic development. A recent report showed that Sonic hedgehog is expressed in the mouse mandible in the presumptive incisor region. In the present study, Indian hedgehog (Ihh) transcripts were present from gestational day 9 to 14 in the mouse mandible (reverse transcription/polymerase chain reaction analysis). Ihh mRNA was present in the dental lamina in both incisor and molar regions and in the developing whiskers ( in-situ hybridization). Ihh may be involved in the site-specific proliferation of mandibular epithelium during the formation of the dental lamina. This is consistent with the observation that endogenous synthesis of retinoic acid is necessary for the initiation of odontogenesis and that retinoic acid induces hedgehog expression.