Development of the early mouse embryo has always been classified as regulative, meaning that when parts or blastomeres of the embryo are isolated they change their developmental fate and can even reconstruct the whole. However, regulative development does not mean that, in situ, these parts or blastomeres are equivalent; it does not mean that the early mammalian embryo is a ball of identical cells without any bias. Regulative development simply means that whatever bias the regions of the embryo might have they still remain flexible and can respond to experimental interference by changes of fate. This realization -- that regulative development and patterning can co-exist -- has led to a renaissance of interest in the first days of development of the mouse embryo, and several laboratories have provided evidence for some early bias. Now the challenge is to gain some understanding of the molecular basis of this bias.