Using interspecific grafting of neural crest between quail and chick embryos, it was determined that the cardiac ganglia originate from the cranial region (somites 1-2) of the vagal neural crest (somites 1-7). Neuronal uptake of [3H]choline was used as an index of neuronal development in the chick atrium. Normal uptake was found to be quite high between Days 8 and 14 of incubation. Following extirpation of neural crest over somites 1 to 3 at stages 8 to 10, neuronal uptake in 8-day chick atrium was decreased by 25-60% depending on the stage at which the lesion was performed. It is thought that the residual uptake represents preganglionic terminals from the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus. Embryos with extirpations of neural crest over somites 1-3 performed at stage 9 showed the greatest decrease of neuronal choline uptake and did not live beyond 11 days of incubation. However, hearts from embryos with partial lesions (performed at stage 10) were treated on incubation Days 12 and 15 for demonstration of acetylcholinesterase in the subepicardial plexus. These hearts showed much less extensive neural plexus with sparse, small cardiac ganglia.