Retinal cells are specified in a zebrafish recessive mutant called young (yng) but they fail to terminally differentiate; i.e. extend neurites and make synaptic contacts. A point mutation in a brahma-related gene 1 (brg1) is responsible for this phenotype. In this microarray study, a three-factor factorial design was utilized to investigate the effects of 1) mutation, 2) change in time (36 vs. 52hpf), and 3) change in tissue (retina vs. whole embryos), and their interactions on gene expression. Significant probesets were inferred by using both specific contrasts of the fitted Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) models and a corresponding 2-fold expression cutoff. The probesets were grouped into three broad categories: 1) Brg1-regulated retinal differentiation genes (731 probsets), 2) Retinal specific genes but independent of Brg1 regulation (3038 probesets) and 3) Genes regulated by Brg1 but outside the retina (107 probesets). Four gene groups/pathways including neurite outgrowth regulators, Delta-Notch signalling molecules, Irx family members and specific cell cycle regulators were identified in the first group, and their relevance for retinal differentiation functionally validated. This study demonstrates that an approach such as ours can identify relevant genes and pathways involved in retinal development as well as the development of other tissues at the same time.