All genes encoding transcription factors of the bHLH, Nuclear Receptor, Basic Leucine Zipper, T-box, Smad, Sox, and other smaller families were identified in the Strongylocentrotus purpuratus genome by means of a permissive blast search of the genome using a database of known transcription factors. Phylogenetic trees were constructed for the major families, permitting a comparison of the regulatory protein repertoire of the sea urchin and other species. QPCR and whole mount in situ hybridization experiments revealed the temporal and spatial expression patterns of these genes during early development. These regulatory genes are initially expressed at a broad range of time points, and the large majority of genes of all families are expressed within the first 48 h of development. The observations suggest assignment of many regulatory genes to specific developmental sub-networks, including endomesodermal, oral, aboral, and apical.