In a previous study using chick/quail chimeric embryos with homotopic transplants (Martinez & Alvarado-Mallart, 1989b), we have delimited in the 2-day-old avian embryo the areas of the neural tube giving rise to optic tectum and mesencephalic grissea as well as to isthmic grissea and cerebellum: respectively, "mesencephalic" and "metencephalic" alar plates. To investigate the determination or the competence of these areas, portions of these germinative neuroepithelia from a quail embryo were transplanted in substitution for other areas of the chick neural tube. The analysis of the chimeric brains was done by comparing alternating transverse sections stained for cytoarchitecture and with two different techniques to recognize transplanted versus host cells: either the Feulgen and Rossenbeck DNA histochemical reaction and/or immunohistochemical methods with a monoclonal antibody recognizing quail but not chick cells. The eventual visual innervation of the quail graft was analyzed in many cases by injecting anterograde axonal tracers in the eye contralateral to the graft. The results are as follows: (1) caudal metencephalon transferred to mesencephalon maintained in all cases its presumptive cerebellar phenotype, whereas (2) rostral metencephalon transferred to mesencephalon changed its fate to a tectal phenotype but maintained its cerebellar fate when transferred to diencephalon; (3) caudal mesencephalon maintained its tectal fate in 65% of the cases when transferred to diencephalon, whereas (4) rostral mesencephalon transferred to a cerebellar domain changed its fate and became influenced by the surrounding structures in all cases, but only in 85% of the cases when it was transplanted to diencephalon; (5) the in situ host diencephalon, isolated from its normal environment by a mesencephalic graft, is competent to change its fate and express a mesencephalic phenotype. These results demonstrate that at least some regions of the germinative neuroepithelium from either metencephalon, mesencephalon, and diencephalon are still pluripotent in the 2-day-old avian embryo and that their fate seems to be under the influence of the surrounding structures. Rostral mesencephalon and rostral metencephalon have been more easily influenced by environmental factors than their caudal counterparts, suggesting that regions providing instructive positional factors exist within the 2-day-old germinative neuroepithelium. These regions might play an important role in the determination of the various segments of the neural tube.