Retinoid X receptors (RXRs), along with retinoic acid (RA) receptors (RARs), mediate the effects of RA on gene expression. Three subtypes of RXRs (alpha, beta, and gamma) which bind to and are activated by the 9-cis stereoisomer of RA have been characterized. They activate gene transcription by binding to specific sites on DNA as homodimers or as heterodimers with RARs and other related nuclear receptors, including the vitamin D receptor, thyroid hormone receptors (TRs), and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors. Two additional RXR subtypes (delta and epsilon) isolated from zebra fish cDNA libraries are described here; although both subtypes form DNA-binding heterodimers with RARs and TR, neither binds 9-cis RA, and both are transcriptionally inactive on RXR response elements. In cotransfection studies with TR, the delta subtype was found to function in a dominant negative manner, while the epsilon subtype had a slight stimulatory effect on thyroid hormone (T3)-dependent transcriptional activity. The discovery of these two novel receptors in zebra fish expands the functional repertoire of RXRs to include ligand-independent and dominant negative modulation of type II receptor function.