The potential genetic and economic advantage of marker-assisted selection for enhanced production in dairy cattle has provided an impetus to conduct numerous genome scans in order to identify associations between DNA markers and future productive potential. One area of focus has been a quantitative trait locus on bovine chromosome 6 (BTA6) found to be associated with milk yield, milk protein and fat percentage, which has been subsequently finemapped to six positional candidate genes. Subsequent investigations have yet to resolve which of the potential positional candidate genes is responsible for the observed associations with productive performance. In this study, we analysed candidate gene expression and the effects of gene knockdown on expression of b- and j-casein mRNA in a small interfering RNA transfected bovine in vitro mammosphere model. From our expression studies in vivo, we observed that four of the six candidates (ABCG2, SPP1, PKD2 and LAP3) exhibited differential expression in bovine mammary tissue over the lactation cycle, but in vitro functional studies indicate that inhibition of only one gene, SPP1, had a significant impact on milk protein gene expression. These data suggest that the gene product of SPP1 (also known as osteopontin) has a significant role in the modulation of milk protein gene expression. While these findings do not exclude other positional candidates from influencing lactation, they support the hypothesis that the gene product of SPP1 is a significant lactational regulatory molecule.