In order to compare their states of commitment with their normal developmental fate, single vegetal pole cells from early Xenopus embryos were labeled and transplanted into the blastocoels of host embryos. In a previous study we showed, using this single cell transplantation assay, that vegetal pole cells become committed to endoderm by the early gastrula stage. In this paper we examine some properties of the commitment process. First, we show that it is gradual. When vegetal blastomeres are taken from progressively older embryos an increasing number of them enter only the endoderm, until by the early gastrula stage they all do. Second, we show that commitment can continue in vitro when an appropriate tissue mass is present. We suggest that commitment to form endoderm may be, in the right conditions, a cell autonomous process.