Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF, FGF-2) mediates several biological functions during embryonic development. With regard to skeletal muscle formation, it has been suggested that FGF-2 is involved in the growth and differentiation of myogenic precursor cells. To identify the FGF-responsive cells we studied the expression of FGF receptor type I (FGFR-1) during early embryonic development of the chick. FGFR-1 immunoreactivity is present at all stages examined (embryonic day [E] 2-E5). Expression of FGFR-1 is found in the somite myotome, limb bud muscle cells, eye and tongue muscle cells, and myocardium. Transplantation of an additional notochord into the paraxial mesoderm, which prevents the formation of a myotome, reveals the absence of FGFR-1 immunoreactivity on the operated side. The distinct expression pattern of FGFR-1 in migrating and differentiating muscle cells indicates that in addition to the stimulation of proliferation of myoblasts, FGF-2 exerts other (nonmitogenic) effects on postmitotic myocytes.