TATA binding protein (TBP) associated factor 1 (TAF1) is a member of the general transcription machinery. Interference in the function of TAF1 causes a broad transcriptional defect in early development. To explore possible roles of TAF1 in embryonic transcriptional silence and zygotic genome activation, we examined the expression of TAF1 in 1-cell mouse embryos. Using an immunofluorescence assay, TAF1 was not detected in embryos in the first few hours after fertilization. TAF1 appeared in pronuclei 6 h post-fertilization and reached a relatively high level before zygotic genome activation. These data show that besides TBP, another critical member of the general transcription machinery such as TAF1 is also absent or at an extremely low level at the outset of development. Combined deficiency in critical members of the general transcription machinery may account for embryonic transcriptional silence.