The shape of most complex organ systems arises from the directed migration of cohesive groups of cells. Here, we dissect the role of the chemokine guidance receptor Cxcr4b in regulating the collective migration of one such cohesive tissue, the zebrafish lateral line primordium. Using in vivo imaging, we show that the shape and organization of the primordium is surprisingly labile, and that internal cell movements are uncoordinated in embryos with reduced Cxcr4b signaling. Genetic mosaic experiments reveal that single cxcr4b mutant cells can migrate in a directional manner when placed in wild-type primordia, but that they are specifically excluded from the leading edge. Moreover, a remarkably small number of SDF1a-responsive cells are able to organize an entire cxcr4b mutant primordium to restore migration and organogenesis in the lateral line. These results reveal a role for chemokine signaling in mediating the self-organizing migration of tissues during morphogenesis.