We have investigated the lineage and tissue interactions that result in avian neural crest cell formation from the ectoderm. Presumptive neural plate was grafted adjacent to non-neural ectoderm in whole embryo culture to examine the role of tissue interactions in ontogeny of the neural crest. Our results show that juxtaposition of non-neural ectoderm and presumptive neural plate induces the formation of neural crest cells. Quail/chick recombinations demonstrate that both the prospective neural plate and the prospective epidermis can contribute to the neural crest. When similar neural plate/epidermal confrontations are performed in tissue culture to look at the formation of neural crest derivatives, juxtaposition of epidermis with either early (stages 4–5) or later (stages 6–10) neural plate results in the generation of both melanocytes and sympathoadrenal cells. Interestingly, neural plates isolated from early stages form no neural crest cells, whereas those isolated later give rise to melanocytes but not crest-derived sympathoadrenal cells. Single cell lineage analysis was performed to determine the time at which the neural crest lineage diverges from the epidermal lineage and to elucidate the timing of neural plate/epidermis interactions during normal development. Our results from stage 8 to 10+ embryos show that the neural plate/neural crest lineage segregates from the epidermis around the time of neural tube closure, suggesting that neural induction is still underway at open neural plate stages.