The urocortin (UCN) group of neuropeptides includes urocortin 1/sauvagine/urotensin 1 (UTS1), urocortin 2 (UCN2) and urocortin 3 (UCN3). In recent years, evidence has accumulated showing that UCNs play pivotal roles in mediating stress response and anxiety in mammals. Evidence has also emerged regarding the evolutionary conservation of UCNs in vertebrates, but very little information is available about UCNs in non-mammalian vertebrates. Indeed, at present, there are no reports of the empirical identification of ucn2 in non-mammalian vertebrates or of the distribution of ucn2 and ucn3 expression in the adult central nervous system (CNS) of these animals. To gain insight into the evolutionary nature of UCNs in vertebrates, we cloned uts1, ucn2 and ucn3 in a teleost fish, medaka and examined the spatial expression of these genes in the adult brain and spinal cord. Although all known UCN2 genes except those in rodents have been reported to likely lack the necessary structural features to produce a functional pre-pro-protein, all three UCN genes in medaka, including ucn2, displayed all of these features, suggesting their functionality. The three UCN genes exhibited distinct spatial expression patterns in the medaka brain: uts1 was primarily expressed in broad regions of the dorsal telencephalon, ucn2 was expressed in restricted regions of the thalamus and brainstem and ucn3 was expressed in discrete nuclei throughout many regions of the brain. We also found that these genes were all expressed throughout the medaka spinal cord, each with a distinct spatial pattern. Given that many of these regions have been implicated in stress responses and anxiety, the three UCNs may serve distinct physiological roles in the medaka CNS, including those involved in stress and anxiety, as shown in the mammalian CNS.