The amphibian Xenopus laevis has been successfully used for many years as a model system for studying vertebrate development. Because of technical limitations, however, molecular investigations have mainly concentrated on early stages. We have developed a straightforward method for stage-specific induction of gene expression in transgenic Xenopus embryos  . This method is based on the Xenopus heat shock protein 70 (Xhsp70 ) promoter driving the expression of desired gene products. We found that ubiquitous expression of the transgene is induced upon relatively mild heat treatment. Green fluorescent protein (GFP) was used as a marker to monitor successful induction of gene expression in transgenic embryos. We used this method to study the stage specificity of Wnt signalling function. Transient ectopic Wnt-8 expression during early neurulation was sufficient to repress anterior head development and this capacity was restricted to early stages of neurulation. By transient over-expression at different stages of development, we show that frizzled-7 disrupted morphogenesis sequentially from anterior to posterior along the dorsal axis as development proceeds. These results demonstrate that this method for inducible gene expression in transgenic Xenopus embryos will be a very powerful tool for temporal analysis of gene function and for studying molecular mechanisms of vertebrate organogenesis.