G2E3 is a putative ubiquitin ligase (E3) identified in a microarray screen for mitotic regulatory proteins. It shuttles between the cytoplasm and nucleus, concentrating in nucleoli and relocalizing to the nucleoplasm in response to DNA damage. In this study, we demonstrate that G2E3 is an unusual ubiquitin ligase that is essential in early embryonic development to prevent apopotic death. This protein has a catalytically inactive HECT domain and two distinct RING-like ubiquitin ligase domains that catalyze lysine 48-linked polyubiquitination. To address in vivo function, we generated a knock-out mouse model of G2E3 deficiency that incorporates a β-galactosidase reporter gene under control of the endogenous promoter. Animals heterozygous for G2E3 inactivation are phenotypically normal with no overt change in development, growth, longevity, or fertility, whereas G2E3 null embryos die prior to implantation. Although normal numbers of G2E3-/- blastocysts are present at embryonic day 3.5, these blastocysts involute in culture as a result of massive apoptosis. Using β-galactosidase staining as a marker for protein expression, we demonstrate that G2E3 is predominantly expressed within the central nervous system and the early stages of limb bud formation of the developing embryo. In adult animals, the most intense staining is found in Purkinje cell bodies and cells lining the ductus deferens. In summary, G2E3 is a dual function ubiquitin ligase essential for prevention of apoptosis in early embryogenesis. © 2008 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.