Morphological data generated from light and electron microscopy form the basis of our understanding of avian morphogenesis. Because chicken embryos are readily and cheaply obtained and are easily accessible for experimental manipulation, morphogenetic processes have been studied extensively in this species. Such studies have allowed us to identify the cells involved during morphogenesis, observe the shape changes or cellular translocations that accompany a morphogenetic process, and determine the timing of these events. Elucidation of the molecular basis of morphogenesis has awaited the integration of several additional approaches. Among these are experimental embryology, which has allowed us to understand cellular behavior associated with morphogenesis; immunocytochemistry, which has identified the macromolecular cues that regulate cell movements and the environmental factors that control them; and molecular techniques, which will permit us eventually to clarify the genetic regulation of morphogenesis. Although current research in development is heavily biased towards molecular biology, morphological studies continue to frame the questions that are now being addressed using molecular techniques. This review focuses on the cells of the neural crest as a model system where questions of avian morphogenesis have been profitably addressed.