Metallothionein (MT) is a small cysteine-rich heavy metal-binding protein involved in metal homeostasis, detoxification and free radical-scavenging. MT is ubiquitously expressed in several tissues, but its role in the central nervous system is not well understood. In this study, we identified two MT homologous genes (. mt2 and smtb) in the zebrafish. Digoxigenin-. in situ hybridization showed the expression of mt2 and smtb genes in the ventricular layers in the telencephalon, diencephalon, mesencephalon and rhombencephalon, most of which are cell proliferating regions in the brain of zebrafish. Cellular characteristics of MT genes expressing cells were examined by double-labelling with markers for neurons (HuC/D) and astrocytes (glial fibrillary acidic protein, GFAP and S100 protein) and cell proliferation marker (PCNA). mt2 and smtb mRNAs are expressed in neurons and not in astrocytes, and they were co-localized with PCNA. These results suggest that mt2 and smtb may play an important role in neurogenesis and neuroprotection.