Low-Stringency PCR was used to isolate the chicken homologue of the human bone morphogenetic protein receptor type II (BMPR-II). In situ hybridization localized mRNA expression for this serine/threonine kinase receptor. It was weakly expressed in the vitreal side of the neural retina at E6. In the E7 chicken, fairly strong labelling was found in cells of the internal part of the neural retina. At E9, strong labelling was found in the region of the retinal ganglion cells. Explants of E6 retina exposed to osteogenic protein-1 (OP-1/BMP-7), exhibited dense retinal fibre outgrowth. This suggests that BMPR-II may form a signalling receptor complex important for retinal development. OP-1 and related ligands may serve functions supplementary to those of neurotrophins.