The synaptonemal complex (SC) is a meiosis-specific structure essential for synapsis of homologous chromosomes. For the first time in any non-mammalian vertebrates, we have isolated cDNA clones encoding two structural components of the SC, SYCP1 and SYCP3, in the medaka, and investigated their protein expression during gametogenesis. As in the case of mammals, medaka SYCP1 and SYCP3 are expressed solely in meiotically dividing cells. In the diplotene stage, SYCP1 is diminished at desynaptic regions of chromosomes and completely lost on the chromosomes at later stages. SYCP3 is localized along the arm and centromeric regions of chromosomes at metaphase I, and its existence on the whole chromosomes persists up to anaphase I, a situation different from that reported in the mouse, in which SYCP3 is confined to the centromeric regions but lost on the arm regions at metaphase I. Thus, the expression patterns of SC components are different in mammals and fish despite the resemblance in morphological structure of the SC, suggesting divergence in the function of the SC in regulation of meiosis-specific chromosomal behavior. Since the antibody against medaka SYCP3 is cross-reactive to other fishes, it should be generally useful for a meiosis-specific marker in fish germ cells.