The cartilagenous tissue of mandibular condyles of newborn mice contains progenitor cells as well as young and mature chondrogenic cells. During in vitro cultivation of the tissue, progenitor cells undergo osteogenic differentiation and form new bone (Silbermann, M., D. Lewinson, H. Gonen, M. A. Lizarbe, and K. von der Mark. 1983. Anat. Rec. 206:373-383). We have studied the expression of genes that typify osteogenic differentiation in mandibular condyles during in vitro cultivation. RNAs of the genes for collagen type I, osteonectin, alkaline phosphatase, and bone gla protein were sequentially expressed in progenitor cells and hypertrophic chondrocytes during culture. Osteopontin expression peaked in both the early and the late phase of the differentiation process. The data indicate a distinct sequence of expression of osteoblast-specific genes during osteogenic differentiation and new bone formation in mandibular condyles.