Previous cell lineage studies indicate that the repeated neuromeres of the chick hindbrain, the rhombomeres, are cell lineage restriction compartments. We have extended these results and tested if the restrictions are absolute. Two different cell marking techniques were used to label cells shortly after rhombomeres form (stage 9+ to 13) so that the resultant clones could be followed up to stage 25. Either small groups of cells were labelled with the lipophilic dye DiI or single cells were injected intracellularly with fluorescent dextran. The majority of the descendants labelled by either technique were restricted to within a single rhombomere. However, in a small but reproducible proportion of the cases (greater than 5%), the clones expanded across a rhombomere boundary. Neither the stage of injection, the stage of analysis, the dorsoventral position, nor the rhombomere identity correlated with the boundary crossing. Judging from the morphology of the cells, both neurons and non-neuronal cells were able to expand over a boundary. These results demonstrate that the rhombomere boundaries represent cell lineage restriction barriers which are not impenetrable in normal development.