Contact of axons with target territories results in the formation of synapses, specific junctional complexes that may represent a final stage of neuronal maturation. Synaptosomal-associated protein 25 (SNAP-25) is a component of particular nerve terminals recently identified in rodent brain. To evaluate the structure and regulation of molecular components of the synapse, we investigated the expression of SNAP-25 in the developing chicken nervous system. Analysis of SNAP-25 cDNA clones demonstrated that the chicken homologue is identical in amino acid sequence to the mouse protein. In chicken retina and neural tube, the onset of SNAP-25 mRNA and protein expression was found to correspond to the time of synaptogenesis. These results suggest that SNAP-25 plays a role in the physiology of mature nerve terminals and that its expression may be regulated by specific cell-cell interactions occurring during synapse formation.