In the mouse and chick embryo, the node plays a central role in generating left-right (LR) positional information. Using several different strategies, we provide evidence in the mouse that bone morphogenetic protein 4 (Bmp4) is required independently in two different sites for node morphogenesis and for LR patterning. Bmp4 expression in the trophoblast-derived extra-embryonic ectoderm is essential for the normal formation of the node and primitive streak. However, tetraploid chimera analysis demonstrates that Bmp4 made in epiblast-derived tissues is required for robust LR patterning, even when normal node morphology is restored. In the absence of embryonic Bmp4, the expression of left-side determinants such as Nodal and Lefty2 is absent in the left lateral plate mesoderm (LPM). Noggin-mediated inhibition of Bmp activity in cultured wild-type embryos results in suppression of Nodal expression in the LPM. Thus, unlike previous models proposed in the chick embryo in which Bmp4 suppresses left-sided gene expression, our results suggest that Bmp acts as a positive facilitator of the left-sided molecular cascade and is required for Nodal induction and maintenance in the left LPM.