The gut of C. elegans derives from all the progeny of the E blastomere, a cell of the eight cell stage. Previous work has shown that gut specification requires an induction during the four cell stage (Goldstein, B. (1992) Nature 357, 255-257). Blastomere isolation and recombination experiments were done to determine which parts of the embryo can respond to gut induction. Normally only the posterior side of the EMS blastomere contacts the inducing cell, P2. When P2 was instead placed in a random position on an isolated EMS, gut consistently differentiated from the daughter of EMS contacting P2, indicating that any side of EMS can respond to gut induction. Additionally, moving P2 around to the opposite side of EMS in an otherwise intact embryo caused EMS's two daughter cells to switch lineage timings, and gut to differentiate from the descendents of what normally would be the MS blastomere. The other cells of the four cell stage, ABa, ABp, and P2, did not form gut when placed in contact with the inducer. To determine whether any other inductions are involved in gut specification, timed blastomere isolations were done at the two and eight cell stages. In the absence of cell contact at the two cell stage, segregation of gut fate proceeded normally at both the two and four cell stages. Gut fate also segregated properly in the absence of cell contact at the eight cell stage. A model is presented for the roles of lineage-dependent mechanisms and cell interactions in establishing gut fate in the E lineage.