The chick homeobox gene goosecoid (gsc) is first expressed in a barely noticeable cell population near the posterior margin (Koller's sickle) of the unincubated egg. Then it is detected in Hensen's node, traditionally considered the chick organizer. Later, gsc-expressing cells leave the node with the prechordal plate. Fate mapping indicates that these three regions are related by cell lineage, and transplantation experiments suggest that they all have inducing activity. Quail posterior margin and anterior primitive streak grafts (gsc expressing) induce gsc transcription in neighboring chick host cells. We propose that development of the chick organizer starts earlier than previously thought and that gsc marks this changing cell population.