We have identified two new genes, neuroD2 and neuroD3, on the basis of their similarity to the neurogenic basic-helix-loop-helix (bHLH) gene neuroD. The predicted amino acid sequence of neuroD2 shows a high degree of homology to neuroD and MATH-2/NEX-1 in the bHLH region, whereas neuroD3 is a more distantly related family member. neuroD3 is expressed transiently during embryonic development, with the highest levels of expression between days 10 and 12. neuroD2 is initially expressed at embryonic day 11, with persistent expression in the adult nervous system. In situ and Northern (RNA) analyses demonstrate that different regions of the adult nervous system have different relative amounts of neuroD and neuroD2 RNA. Similar to neuroD, expression of neuroD2 in developing Xenopus laevis embryos results in ectopic neurogenesis, indicating that neuroD2 mediates neuronal differentiation. Transfection of vectors expressing neuroD and neuroD2 into P19 cells shows that both can activate expression through simple E-box-driven reporter constructs and can activate a reporter driven by the neuroD2 promoter region, but the GAP-43 promoter is preferentially activated by neuroD2. The noncongruent expression pattern and target gene specificity of these highly related neurogenic bHLH proteins make them candidates for conferring specific aspects of the neuronal phenotype.