BACKGROUND: Plexins are a family of transmembrane proteins that were shown to act as receptors for Semaphorins either alone or in a complex together with Neuropilins. Based on structural criteria Plexins were subdivided into 4 classes, A through D. PlexinAs are mainly thought to act as mediators of repulsive signals in cell migration and axon guidance. Their functional role in vertebrates has been studied almost exclusively in the context of Semaphorin signaling, i.e. as co-receptors for class 3 Semaphorins. Much less is known about Plexins of the other three classes. Despite the fact that Plexins are involved in the formation of neuronal circuits, the temporal changes of their expression patterns during development of the nervous system have not been analyzed in detail. RESULTS: Only seven plexins are found in the chicken genome in contrast to mammals, where nine plexins have been identified. Here, we describe the dynamic expression patterns of all known plexin family members in comparison to the neuropilins in the developing chicken spinal cord. CONCLUSION: Our in situ hybridization study revealed that the expression patterns of plexins and neuropilins are only partially overlapping, especially during early and intermediate stages of spinal cord development, supporting both cooperative and separate functions of plexins and neuropilins in neural circuit formation.