We have determined that the human cDNA sequence of the previously described primate brain mRNA species 1B4 is nearly identical (99.95% similarity) to that of human Synaptotagmin I. The apparent identity of Synaptotagmin I with 1B4, whose distribution in the brain of the monkey Cynomolgous was determined previously by Northern blot and in situ hybridization (ISH) analyses, reveals the Synaptotagmin I is differentially expressed in the primate brain. Primate Synaptotagmin I mRNA is enriched in hindbrain structures relative to forebrain structures by Northern blot analysis. By ISH analysis, primate Synaptotagmin I mRNA is highly expressed in occipital cortex and lateral geniculate (visual system components) and differentially expressed across topographic cortical boundaries between inferior and superior temporal gyrus (a polymodal zone with visual, auditory and somatosensory inputs) and between areas 17 and 18 of the visual cortex (primary and secondary visual areas). Cortical expression is also enriched in layers V and VI, which contain large pyramidal projection neurons. Synaptotagmin I's greater association with large projection neurons and with some components of visual sensory transduction could reflect a requirement of these neural components for greater synaptic activity. Synaptotagmin I expression in the primate brain is also dissimilar to Synaptotagmin I expression in rodents. Thus, variation of Synaptotagmin I expression has occurred during mammalian evolution, perhaps as a consequence of the larger size and neurotransmitter requirements of primate neurons.