Initial determination of left-right (L-R) polarity in mammalian embryos takes place in the node. However, it is not known how asymmetric signals are generated in the node and transferred to the lateral plate mesoderm (LPM). Mice homozygous for a hypomorphic Nodal allele (Nodal(neo)) were generated and found to exhibit L-R defects, including right isomerism. Although the mutant embryos express Nodal at gastrulation stages, the subsequent expression of this gene in the node and left LPM is lost. A transgene that conferred Nodal expression specifically in the node rescued the L-R defects of the Nodal(neo/neo) embryos. Conversely, ectopic expression of the Nodal inhibitor Lefty2 in the node of Nodal(neo/+) embryos resulted in a phenotype similar to that of the Nodal(neo/neo) mutant. These results indicate that Nodal produced in the node is required for expression of Nodal and other left side-specific genes in the LPM.