Four recessive mutations that affect long-range embryonic migration of the two canal-associated neurons (CANs) in C. elegans were isolated and characterized with the goal of identifying genes involved in control of directed cell movement. Mutant animals were identified initially by their "withered" tails, a phenotype associated with abnormal CAN migration; the mutants were then analyzed for abnormal cell migrations by Nomarski microscopy. Based on genetic complementation tests, the mutations were assigned to four different loci, two new (mig-10 III, mig-11 III) and two previously identified (unc-39 V, vab-8 V). Mutations at all four loci affect CAN migration with high to moderate penetrance (the percentage of mutant animals that exhibit the phenotype). In addition, two other bilaterally symmetric pairs of neurons (ALM and HSN), the mesoblast M, and a pair of coelomocyte mother cells are affected by one or more of the mutations, generally with lower penetrance. With the exceptions of HSN and the right coelomocyte mother cell, which occasionally migrate beyond their normal destinations, the cells affected appear to migrate either incompletely or not at all. All the migration phenotypes show incomplete penetrance and variable expressively, although genetic tests suggest that mutations at mig-10 and vab-8 result in complete or nearly complete loss of gene function. The variability in mutant phenotypes allowed tests for interdependence of several of the affected migrations; all those analyzed appeared independent of one another. The possible nature of the mutant defects and possible roles of these four loci in cell migration are discussed.