Vertebrate cranial ectodermal placodes are transient, paired thickenings of embryonic head ectoderm that are crucial for the formation of the peripheral sensory nervous system: they give rise to the paired peripheral sense organs (olfactory organs, inner ears and anamniote lateral line system), as well as the eye lenses, and most cranial sensory neurons. Here, we present the first detailed spatiotemporal fate-maps in any vertebrate for the ophthalmic trigeminal (opV) and maxillomandibular trigeminal (mmV) placodes, which give rise to cutaneous sensory neurons in the ophthalmic and maxillomandibular lobes of the trigeminal ganglion. We used focal DiI and DiO labelling to produce eight detailed fate-maps of chick embryonic head ectoderm over approximately 24 h of development, from 0-16 somites. OpV and mmV placode precursors arise from a partially overlapping territory; indeed, some individual dyespots labelled both opV and mmV placode-derived cells. OpV and mmV placode precursors are initially scattered within a relatively large region of ectoderm adjacent to the neural folds, intermingled both with each other and with future epidermal cells, and with geniculate and otic placode precursors. Although the degree of segregation increases with time, there is no clear border between the opV and mmV placodes even at the 16-somite stage, long after neurogenesis has begun in the opV placode, and when neurogenesis is just beginning in the mmV placode. Finally, we find that occasional cells in the border region between the opV placode and mmV placode express both Pax3 (an opV placode specific marker) and Neurogenin1 (an mmV placode specific marker), suggesting that a few cells are responding to both opV and mmV placode-inducing signals. Overall, our results fill a large gap in our knowledge of the early stages of development of both the opV and mmV placodes, providing an essential framework for subsequent studies of the molecular control of their development.