The quail-chick chimaera system was used to investigate the origin of the various neuronal cell types of the cerebellum from the mesencephalic and metencephalic brain vesicles at the 11- to 14-somite stage in the avian embryo. We have already demonstrated that the cerebellum is derived from both the mesencephalic and metencephalic brain vesicles. The mesencephalic contribution to the cerebellum is restricted to a mediodorsal territory inserted as a V-shaped area into the primitive metencephalic vesicle through complex morphogenetic movements taking place from day 2 to day 4 of embryonic development. Here we report that the cerebellar presumptive territory extends along the anteroposterior axis, over the caudal half of the mesencephalon and the rostral half of the metencephalon. Along the dorsoventral axis, the cerebellar anlage is located in the alar plates at the exclusion of the roof and basal plates, i.e. lies in the lateral walls of the neuroepithelium in the area included between approximately 25 and 120 degrees with respect to the sagittal plane. We also report that the neuroepithelium corresponding to the cerebellar presumptive territory also yields other brain structures (e.g. part of the optic tectum in the mesencephalon). The external granular layer (EGL) arises only from the rostral metencephalon, undergoing extensive tangential movements which we have analysed in detail: the more ventral the position of cells in the metencephalic alar plates the more rostral and lateral is their position in the EGL. Finally, we discuss the fact that the cerebellar cortex, an integrative structure of the brain, arises from the alar plates of the neural tube. This is consistent with the general spatial organization of the neural anlage of the vertebrate embryo, in which this part of the neuroepithelium is devoted to the production of interneurons, whereas the basal plate and the neural folds yield motor structures and primary sensory neurons respectively.