Recently, the Dlx family of homeobox genes have been identified as candidates for regulating patterning and differentiation of the forebrain. We have made a polyclonal antiserum to the protein product of the Dlx-2 gene. Using this antiserum, we have characterized the spatial and temporal pattern of DLX-2 protein expression during murine development and in the adult mouse brain. These studies demonstrate that, like the mRNA from the Dlx-2 gene, DLX-2 protein is expressed in mouse embryonic forebrain, limbs, tail, genital tubercle, and branchial arches. Within the embryonic forebrain, DLX-2 protein is expressed within specific transverse and longitudinal domains. Analysis of expression within the wall of the forebrain shows that DLX-2 is expressed in proliferative regions including the ventricular and subventricular zones. DLX-2 is expressed in the same cells as MASH-1, a marker of relatively undifferentiated cells, but in a reciprocal fashion to MAP-2, a marker of terminal neuronal differentiation. A number of DLX-2-expressing cells, but not all, can be labeled with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU). Using the patterns of DLX-2, MASH-1, MAP-2 expression, and bromodeoxyuridine incorporation, we identify four molecularly distinct populations of cells that may correspond to different stages of neuronal differentiation in the mouse basal forebrain, in which DLX-2 is expressed at the transition from proliferation to terminal differentiation.