By grafting ganglia from embryonic quails into the neural crest migration pathway of 2-day chick embryos, it was previously demonstrated that all type of ganglia possess more developmental potentialities than those normally expressed in the normal course of development. Namely autonomic neurones with catecholamine and adrenomedullary cells can be obtained from grafted spinal ganglia. The latter also yield sensory neurons to the host dorsal root ganglia (DRG) but only if they are taken from the donor before 8 days of incubation. In the present article we show that the capacity to differentiate sensory neurons in back-transplantation experiments can be correlated with the presence in the donor DRG of cycling neuronal precursors. Once all the neurons have been withdrawn from the cell cycle - an event which occurs first in the mediodorsal and then in the lateroventral area of the ganglion - the DRG cell population gives rise exclusively to autonomic ganglion cells in the host. It is concluded that in the conditions of the back-transplantation experiments, the postmitotic neurons contained in the donor ganglion do not survive. Therefore, the neurons and paraganglion cells which differentiate in the host arise from still undifferentiated precursor cells. This indicates that besides sensory neuron precursors the embryonic DRG cell population also contains precursor cells for the autonomic differentiation pathway.