We examined the distribution of Notch family members and their ligands during the development of articular cartilage and the growth plate. Notch 1 was expressed by the chondrocytes of the developing articular surface but became increasingly restricted to the deeper layers after birth whilst expression of this family member was restricted to hypertrophic chondrocytes in the growth plate. Notch 2 and 4, Delta and Jagged 2 showed a broadly similar distribution, being present throughout the articular cartilage during development and becoming increasingly restricted to deeper layers with age. Hypertrophic chondrocytes within the growth plate also expressed Notch 2 and 4, Delta and Jagged 2 (which was also expressed in prehypertrophs). Notch 3 and Jagged 1 were absent from developing articular cartilage but were present in deeper layers at later time points (> 1 month) and both receptor and ligand were expressed in hypertrophic chondrocytes at all ages examined. These results highlight the complex Notch signalling interactions that result in the formation of the heterogeneous articular cartilage and allow for the co-ordinated ossification and elongation of the growth plate. Mechanisms by which these processes are controlled are discussed in light of recent advances in the understanding of Notch signalling pathways.