The fate of the embryonic endoderm (generally called visceral embryonic endoderm) of midstreak to neural plate stages of the mouse embryo was studied by microinjecting horseradish peroxidase (HRP) into single axial endoderm cells in situ, and tracing the labeled descendants to early somite stages in vitro. Axial endoderm cells along the anterior fifth of the late streak/neural plate stage embryo contributed descendants either to the yolk sac endoderm or to the anterior intestinal portal. Cells of the exposed head process contributed to the trunk endoderm and notochord; neighboring endoderm cells contributed to the dorsal foregut. Contributions to the ventral foregut came from endoderm at, and anterior to, the distal tip of the younger, midstreak embryo (in which the head process was not yet exposed). Endoderm over the primitive streak contributed to the postsomite endoderm. We argue from these results and those in the literature that during gastrulation the axial embryonic endoderm is of mixed lineage: (1) an anterior population of cells is derived from primitive endoderm and contributes to the yolk sac endoderm; (2) a population at, and anterior to, the distal tip of the midstreak embryo, extending more anteriorly at late streak/neural plate stages, is presumed to emerge from primitive ectoderm at the beginning of gastrulation and contributes to the foregut and anterior intestinal portal; (3) the axial portion of the head process that begins to incorporate into the ventral surface at the late streak stage contributes to notochord and trunk endoderm. Cells or their descendants that were destined to die within 24 hr were evident at the midstreak stage. There was a linear trend in the incidence of cell death among labeled cells at the late streak/neural plate stages, ranging from 27% caudal to the node to 57% in the anterior fifth of the embryo. The surviving axial endoderm cells divided sufficiently fast to double the population in 24 hr.