Recent studies of testicular descent suggest not only that the gubernaculum does not initially attach to the scrotum, but also that it must migrate from the groin. Two findings suggest that the gubernaculum may behave like an embryonic limb bud during this phase. First, the active growth centre is at the distal tip of the gubernaculum. Secondly, the gubernaculum is loose in the subcutaneous tissues beneath Scarpa's fascia. The free protrusion of the gubernaculum from the abdominal wall was so reminiscent of a developing embryonic limb bud, we thought that the biological controls of both processus may be similar. This review examines what is known about vertebrate limb bud development, and compares the mechanisms to what has recently been discovered in the gubernaculum. The hypothesis that both processes may be similar is initially consistent with the current facts, encouraging us to investigate this further experimentally.