The origin of prospective M cells, which are median neuroepithelial cells that become wedge-shaped during bending of the neural plate and eventually form the midline floor of the neural tube, was determined by constructing quail/chick chimeras and using the quail nucleolar marker to identify quail donor cells in chick host blastoderms. Two possible sites of prospective M-cell origin in the epiblast were examined: a single, midline rudiment located just rostral to Hensen's node and paired rudiments flanking the cranial part of the primitive streak. Our results suggest that M cells arise exclusively from the midline, prenodal rudiment. From this rudiment, M cells extend caudally throughout the entire length of the neuroepithelium. This new information on the origin of prospective M cells will aid in the analysis of their role in neurulation.