A set of tendons, aponeurotic sheets and retinaculae, which transduce muscle action from proximal limb levels to flexion and extension of the digits, is found in limbs of many vertebrates. This set of structures, here termed the digit tendon complex, is described for the axolotl forelimb. We show that the complex forms autonomously in muscleless axolotl limb regenerates produced from a cuff of unirradiated dermis surrounding an irradiated limb stump, and persists for up to a year after amputation. The pattern of other connective tissue structures, including the skeleton, is also normal. Fibroblast condensations that may represent sets of these cells normally associated with muscles in the extensor and flexor compartments of the carpal region also form in muscleless limbs. The results are discussed in terms of the importance of the dermis in pattern regulation, selforganization of connective tissues in general and autonomous development of the digit tendon complex in particular.