We have characterized the full-length vasa cDNA from Jundiá, Rhamdia quelen (Heptapteridae, Siluriformes). vasa encodes a member of the DEAD-box protein family of ATP-dependent RNA helicases. This protein is highly conserved among different organisms and its role is associated with RNA metabolism. In the majority of the investigated species, vasa is restricted to the germ cell lineage and its expression has been used to study germline development in many organisms, including fish. The deduced R. quelen vasa amino acid sequence displayed high similarity with Vasa protein sequences from other organisms, and did not cluster with PL10 or P68 DEAD-box protein subfamilies. We also reported that there is no other isoform for vasa mRNA in R. quelen gonads. Expression analysis by RT-PCR and qPCR showed vasa transcripts exclusively expressed in the germ cells of R. quelen gonads. R. quelen vasa mRNA was maternally inherited, and was detected in the migrating primordial germ cells (PGCs) until 264 h post-fertilization during embryonic and larval development. This work has characterized for the first time the full-length R. quelen vasa cDNA, and describes its expression patterns during R. quelen embryonic and larval development. Our results will contribute to the basic reproductive biology of this native species, and will support studies using vasa as a germ cell marker in different biotechnological studies, such as germ cell transplantation.