Male and female embryonic stem (ES) cell lines were derived from the area pellucidae of Stage X (EG&K) chicken embryos. These ES cell lines were grown in culture for extended periods of time and the majority of the cells retained a diploid karyotype. When reintroduced into Stage VI-X (EG&K) recipient embryos, the cES cells were able to contribute to all somatic tissues. By combining irradiation of the recipient embryo with exposure of the cES cells to the embryonic environment in diapause, a high frequency and extent of chimerism was obtained. High-grade chimeras, indistinguishable from the donor phenotype by feather pigmentation, were produced. A transgene encoding GFP was incorporated into the genome of cES cells under control of the ubiquitous promoter CX and GFP was widely expressed in somatic tissues. Although cES cells made extensive contributions to the somatic tissues, contribution to the germline was not observed.