Secreted TGFbeta proteins of the Nodal family pattern the vertebrate body axes and induce mesoderm and endoderm . Nodal proteins can act as morphogens , but the mechanisms regulating their activity and signaling range are poorly understood. In particular, it has been unclear how inefficient processing or rapid turnover of the Nodal protein influences autocrine and paracrine signaling properties . Here, we evaluate the role of Nodal processing and stability in tissue culture and zebrafish embryos. Removal of the pro domain potentiates autocrine signaling but reduces Nodal stability and signaling range. Insertion of an N-glycosylation site present in several related TGFbeta proteins increases the stability of mature Nodal. The stabilized form of Nodal acts at a longer range than the wild-type form. These results suggest that increased proteolytic maturation of Nodal potentiates autocrine signaling, whereas increased Nodal stability extends paracrine signaling.