SHP-2 is a positive component of many receptor tyrosine kinase signaling pathways. The related protein-tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) SHP-1 usually acts as a negative regulator. The precise domains utilized by SHP-2 to transmit positive signals in vivo and the basis for specificity between SHP-1 and SHP-2 are not clear. In Xenopus, SHP-2 is required for mesoderm induction and completion of gastrulation. We investigated the effects of SHP-2 mutants and SHP-2/SHP-1 chimeras on basic fibroblast growth factor-induced mesoderm induction. Both SH2 domains and the PTP domain are required for normal SHP-2 function in this pathway. The N-terminal SH2 domain is absolutely required, whereas the C-terminal SH2 contributes to wild-type function. The C-terminal tyrosyl phosphorylation sites and proline-rich region are dispensable, arguing against adapter models of SHP-2 function. Although the SH2 domains contribute to SHP-2 specificity, studies of SHP chimeras reveal that substantial specificity resides in the PTP domain. Thus, PTP domains exhibit biologically relevant specificity in vivo, and noncatalytic and catalytic domains of PTPs contribute to specificity in a combinatorial fashion.