We recently demonstrated that Cellular Nucleic acid Binding Protein (CNBP)(-/-) mouse embryos exhibit forebrain truncation due to a lack of proper morphogenetic movements of the anterior visceral endoderm (AVE) during pre-gastrulation stage (Chen, W., Liang, Y., Deng, W., Shimizu, K., Ashique, A.M., Li, E., Li, Y.P., 2003. The zinc-finger protein CNBP is required for forebrain formation in the mouse, Development 130, 1367-1379). However, CNBP expression pattern in the mouse forebrain suggests that CNBP may have more direct effects during forebrain development. Our data show that CNBP is expressed in tissues of early chick embryo that are the equivalent to the mouse embryo. Using a combination of RNAi-silencing and Retrovirus-misexpression approaches, we investigated the temporal function of CNBP in the specification/development of the chick forebrain during organogenesis. The silencing of CNBP expression resulted in forebrain truncation and the absence of BF-1, Six3 and Hesx1 expression, but not Otx2 in chick embryos. Misexpression of CNBP induced the expression of BF-1, Six3 and Hesx1 in the hindbrain, but not the expression of Otx2. These results offer novel insights into the function of CNBP during organogenesis as the regulator of forebrain formation and a number of rostral head transcription factors. Moreover, CNBP and Otx2 may play roles as regulators of forebrain formation in two parallel pathways. These new insights into CNBP functions underscore the essential role of CNBP in forebrain formation during chick embryo organogenesis.