Creation of an embryonic fate map may provide insight into the patterns of cell division and specification contributing to the apical region of the early Arabidopsis embryo. A fate map has been constructed by inducing genetic chimerism during the two-apical-cell stage of embryogenesis to determine if the orientation of the first anticlinal cell division correlates with later developmental axes. Chimeras were also used to map the relative locations of precursors of the cotyledon and leaf primordia. Genetic chimeras were induced in embryos doubly heterozygous for a heat shock regulated Cre recombinase and a constitutively expressed beta-glucuronidase (GUS) gene flanked by the loxP binding sites for Cre. Individual cells in the two-apical-cell stage embryo responding to heat shock produce GUS-negative daughter cells. Mature plants grown from seed derived from treated embryos were scored for GUS-negative sector extent in the cotyledons and leaves. The GUS-negative daughters of apical cells had a strong tendency to contribute primarily to one cotyledon or the other and to physically adjacent true leaf margins. This result indicated that patterns of early cell division correlate with later axes of symmetry in the embryo and that these patterns partially limit the fates available for adoption by daughter cells. However, GUS-negative sectors were shared between all regions of the mature plant, suggesting that there is no strict fate restriction imposed on the daughters of the first apical cells.