The developmental fate of cells in the epiblast of early-primitive-streak-stage mouse embryos was assessed by studying the pattern of tissue colonisation displayed by lac Z-expressing cells grafted orthotopically to nontransgenic embryos. Results of these fate-mapping experiments revealed that the lateral and posterior epiblast contain cells that will give rise predominantly to mesodermal derivatives. The various mesodermal populations are distributed in overlapping domains in the lateral and posterior epiblast, with the embryonic mesoderm such as heart, lateral, and paraxial mesoderm occupying a more distal position than the extraembryonic mesoderm. Heterotopic grafting of presumptive mesodermal cells results in the grafted cells adopting the fate appropriate to the new site, reflecting a plasticity of cell fate determination before ingression. The first wave of epiblast cells that ingress through the primitive streak are those giving rise to extraembryonic mesoderm. Cells that will form the mesoderm of the yolk sac and the amnion make up a major part of the mesodermal layer of the midprimitive-streak-stage embryo. Cells that are destined for embryonic mesoderm are still found within the epiblast, but some have been recruited to the distal portion of the mesoderm. By the late-primitive-streak-stage, the mesodermal layer contains only the precursors of embryonic mesoderm. This suggests that there has been a progressive displacement of the midstreak mesoderm to extraembryonic sites, which is reminiscent of that occurring in the overlying endodermal tissue. The regionalisation of cell fate in the late-primitive-streak mesoderm bears the same spatial relationship as their ancestors in the epiblast prior to cell ingression. This implies that both the position of the cells in the proximal-distal axis and their proximity to the primitive streak are major determinants for the patterning of the embryonic mesoderm.