The floor plate is a set of epithelial cells present in the ventral midline of the neural tube in vertebrates that seems to have an important role in the developmental patterning of central nervous system fibre pathways, and arrangements of specific neurons. The floor plate arises from dorsal ectodermal cells closely associated with the mesoderm that forms notochord, and it may depend on interactions from the notochord for its specification. To learn the nature of these interactions we have analysed mutations in zebrafish (Brachydanio rerio). We report here that in wild-type embryos the floor plate develops as a simply organized single cell row, but that its development fails in embryos bearing the newly discovered zygotic lethal 'cyclops' mutation, cyc-1(b16). Mosaic analysis establishes that cyc-1 blocks floor plate development autonomously and reveals the presence of homeogenetic induction between floor plate cells.