We are interested in determining whether low maternal vitamin D-3 affects brain development in utero. Whilst the vitamin D receptor (VDR) has been identified in embryonic rat brains, the timing and magnitude of its expression across the brain remains unclear. In this study we have quantitated VDR expression during development as well correlated the timing of its appearance with two vital developmental events, apoptosis and mitosis. Brains from embryonic rats (embryonic days 15-23) were examined. We show that the well-described increase in apoptotic cells and decrease in mitotic cells during development correlates with the appearance of the VDR in brain tissue. Given that vitamin D-3 regulates mitosis and apoptosis in non-neuronal tissue we speculate that the timing of VDR expression in embryonic brain may directly or indirectly mediate features of neuronal apoptosis and mitosis.