We have cloned and examined the early developmental expression of the chick homolog of noggin, a gene originally isolated in Xenopus that can dorsalize gastrular mesoderm and induce anterior neural tissue from gastrular ectoderm when expressed experimentally. Chick noggin is expressed at relatively low levels, but at sites equivalent to those seen in amphibian development, namely Hensen's node and the endo- and mesodermal head process. There is also diffuse expression in the early CNS, centered on the ventral midline, and later hindbrain-associated expression. Since the earlier of these expression sites are consistent with endogenous organizer functions suggested by the properties of the protein in Xenopus experiments, we have used recombinant mammalian Noggin protein secreted by CHO cells in tests for developmental disturbance on the early gastrula-staged chick blastoderm. Comparable tests sensitively detect effects, on chick, of various other secreted proteins that simulate or replicate early developmental signals in Xenopus. We have been unable to observe such effects with a range of Noggin concentrations including those that dramatically dorsalize Xenopus ventral marginal zones. To illustrate effects observed in such tests with secreted proteins active on early stages, we show results with the known Xenopus ventralizer Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4 (BMP-4).