In avian embryos, cranial neural crest cells emigrate from the dorsal midline of the neural tube shortly after neural tube closure. Previous lineage analyses suggest that the neural crest is not a pre-segregated population of cells within the neural tube; instead, a single progenitor in the dorsal neural tube can contribute to neurons in both the central and the peripheral nervous systems (Bronner-Fraser and Fraser, 1989 Neuron 3, 755–766). To explore the relationship between the ‘premigratory’ neural crest cells and the balance of the cells in the neural tube in the midbrain and hindbrain region, we have challenged the fate of these populations by ablating the neural crest either alone or in combination with the adjoining ventral portions of the neural tube. Focal injections of the vital dye, DiI, into the neural tissue bordering the ablated region demonstrate that cells at the same axial level, in the lateral and ventral neural tube, regulate to reconstitute a population of neural crest cells. These cells emigrate from the neural tube, migrate along normal pathways according to their axial level of origin and appear to give rise to a normal range of derivatives. This regulation following ablation suggests that neural tube cells normally destined to form CNS derivatives can adjust their prospective fates to form PNS and other neural crest derivatives until 4.5-6 hours after the time of normal onset of emigration from the neural tube.