Abstract Spgatae is the sea urchin ortholog of the vertebrate gata4/5/6 genes, as confirmed by phylogenetic analysis. The accumulation of Spgatae transcripts during embryonic development and the spatial pattern of expression are reported here. Expression was first detected in the 15 h blastula. The number of Spgatae RNA molecules increases steadily during blastula stages, with expression peaking during gastrulation. After gastrulation is complete, the level of expression decreases until the end of embryogenesis. Whole mount in situ hybridization showed that Spgatae transcripts were first detected in a ring of prospective mesoderm cells in the vegetal plate. Spgatae expression then expands to include the entire vegetal plate at the mesenchyme blastula stage. During gastrulation Spgatae is expressed at the blastopore, and at prism stage strongly in the hindgut and midgut but not foregut, and also in mesoderm cells at the tip of the archenteron. Towards the end of embryogenesis, expression in the hindgut decreases. The terminal pattern of expression is in midgut plus coelomic pouches.