The molecular basis of gastrulation is poorly understood. In this paper we address this problem by taking advantage of the observation that the transcription activator Brachyury is essential for gastrulation movements in Xenopus and mouse embryos. We infer from this observation that amongst the target genes of Brachyury are some that are involved in the regulation of gastrulation. In the course of a screen for Brachyury targets we identified Xwnt11. Use of a dominant-negative Xwntll construct confirms that signalling by this class of Wnts is essential for normal gastrulation movements, and further investigation suggests that Xwntll signals not through the canonical Wnt signalling pathway involving GSK-3 and beta-catenin but through another route, which may require small GTPases such as Rho and Rac. Future work will concentrate on elucidating the Xwnt11 signal transduction pathway and on investigating its influence on cell shape and polarity during Xenopus gastrulation.