Abstract To address the question of the origin of glial cells and the mechanisms leading to their specification, we have sought to identify novel genes expressed in glial progenitors. We adopted suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) to establish a chick cDNA library enriched for genes specifically expressed at 6 days of incubation (E6) in the ventral neuroepithelium, a tissue previously shown to contain glial progenitors. Screens were then undertaken to select differentially expressed cDNAs, and out of 82 unique SSH clones, 21 were confirmed to display a regionalized expression along the dorsoventral axis of the E6 ventral neuroepithelium. Among these, we identified a transcript coding for the chick orthologue of Sulf1, a recently identified cell surface sulfatase, as a new, early marker of oligodendrocyte (OL) precursors in the chick embryonic spinal cord. This study provides groundwork for the further identification of genes involved in glial specification.