The cement gland is an ectodermal organ in the head of frog embryos, lying anterior to any neural tissue. As analyzed by specific RNA expression, cement gland, like neural tissue, was induced by the dorsal mesoderm. Interestingly, mesoderm with the highest cement gland-inducing potential lay posterior to the ectoderm fated to form this organ, indicating that its induction occurred at a distance from the inducer source. Cement gland induction first occurred during early gastrulation. However, most initially induced cells did not contribute to the mature cement gland, but instead formed part of the neural plate. This change in fate could be reconstituted in vitro. These results suggest that determination of part of the anteroposterior axis occurs progressively, where future neural ectoderm is first induced to a cement glandlike state. As gastrulation proceeds, further induction by mesoderm may override this state, which persists only in the extreme anterior of the embryo.