We have isolated and identified four chicken homeobox genes in the upstream region of the Chox-4 complex. The Chox-4g and -4f genes, at the 5' extremity of the complex, were expressed locally in the vicinity of the zone of polarizing activity (ZPA) at early stages of limb development, substantiating the involvement of the genes in anteroposterior axis determination. To confirm their function, we implanted a bead containing retinoic acid, or the ZPA itself, in the anterior margin of the limb bud, leading to formation of mirror-image duplicated digits, and observed the resultant change in gene expression. Expression of the Chox-4g and -4f genes was induced in the new digit-forming region. Those results suggest that positional information assigned by a ZPA morphogen is imprinted on cellular memory by expression of the Chox-4 genes to maintain positional signaling along the anteroposterior axis in the limb field.