WNTs are secreted signaling molecules which control cell differentiation and proliferation. They are known to play essential roles in various developmental processes. Wnt genes have been identified in a variety of animals, and it has been shown that their amino acid sequences are highly conserved throughout evolution. To investigate the role of wnt genes during fish development from the evolutionary viewpoint, six medaka wnt genes (wnt4, wnt5a, wnt6, wnt7b, wnt8b and wnt8-like) were isolated and their embryonic expression was examined. These wnt genes were expressed in various tissues during embryonic development, and most of their expression patterns were conserved or comparable to those of other vertebrates. Thus, these wnt genes may be useful as molecular markers to investigate development and organogenesis using the medaka. Focus was on wnt5a, which was expressed in the pectoral fin buds, because its expression pattern was particularly comparable to that in tetrapod limbs. Its detailed expression pattern was further examined during pectoral fin bud development. The conservation and diversification of Wnt5a expression through the evolutionary transition from fish fins to tetrapod limbs is discussed.