The definitive retinal progenitors of the eye field are specified by transcription factors that both promote a retinal fate and control cell movements that are critical for eye field formation. However, the molecular signaling pathways that regulate these movements are largely undefined. We demonstrate that both the FGF and ephrin pathways impact eye field formation. Activating the FGF pathway before gastrulation represses cellular movements in the presumptive anterior neural plate and prevents cells from expressing a retinal fate, independent of mesoderm induction or anterior-posterior patterning. Inhibiting the FGF pathway promotes cell dispersal and significantly increases eye field contribution. ephrinB1 reverse signaling is required to promote cellular movements into the eye field, and can rescue the FGF receptor-induced repression of retinal fate. These results indicate that FGF modulation of ephrin signaling regulates the positioning of retinal progenitor cells within the definitive eye field.