The mouse Btaf1 gene, an ortholog of yeast MOT1, encodes a highly conserved general transcription factor. The function of this SNF2-like ATPase has been studied mainly in yeast and human cells, which has revealed that it binds directly to TBP, forming the B-TFIID complex. This complex binds to core promoters of RNA polymerase II-transcribed genes and, of crucial importance, BTAF1-TBP interactions have been shown to affect the kinetics of TBP-promoter interactions. Here we report the isolation of a mouse line carrying a Btaf1 allele containing an ENU-induced point mutation that causes a substitution mutation in the BTAF1 ATPase domain. Embryos homozygous for this loss-of-function mutation appear to be morphologically normal until early somite stages, but die between embryonic days 9 and 10.5 displaying growth arrest and edema. Analyses in vitro suggest that the altered protein is less stable and, independent from this, functionally impaired in releasing of TBP from chromatin, but not in binding to TBP.