In urodele amphibians, the progenitor cells that regenerate amputated limbs (known as the blastema) normally replace only the missing structures. After systemic delivery of retinoic acid (RA), more proximal structures are also formed, indicating that RA can control position specification in the proximal-distal axis of the regenerating limb. According to dose and experimental context, retinoids can also re-specify the anteroposterior axis of the limb, induce deletions of skeletal elements, or block re-growth completely. To study the molecular basis of these morphogenetic effects, we screened complementary DNA libraries of newt regenerative tissues (limbs and tails) for hormone nuclear receptors activated by RA. Two functional retinoic acid receptors (RARs) were identified, one of which is the newt homologue of the human alpha-receptor (RAR alpha). The second receptor, called RAR delta, is novel. Sequence analysis suggests that the composite newt RAR previously reported is chimaeric, consisting of 5'RAR-beta-like and 3' RAR delta clones. We conclude that multiple RARs are expressed during limb regeneration in amphibians and suggest that receptor heterogeneity may underlie the different effects of retinoids on limb morphogenesis.