Hensen's node, also called the chordoneural hinge in the tail bud, is a group of cells that constitutes the organizer of the avian embryo and that expresses the gene HNF-3(β). During gastrulation and neurulation, it undergoes a rostral-to-caudal movement as the embryo elongates. Labeling of Hensen's node by the quail-chick chimera system has shown that, while moving caudally, Hensen's node leaves in its wake not only the notochord but also the floor plate and a longitudinal strand of dorsal endodermal cells. In this work, we demonstrate that the node can be divided into functionally distinct subregions. Caudalward migration of the node depends on the presence of the most posterior region, which is closely apposed to the anterior portion of the primitive streak as defined by expression of the T-box gene Ch-Tbx6L. We call this region the axial-paraxial hinge because it corresponds to the junction of the presumptive midline axial structures (notochord and floor plate) and the paraxial mesoderm. We propose that the axial-paraxial hinge is the equivalent of the neuroenteric canal of other vertebrates such as Xenopus. Blocking the caudal movement of Hensen's node at the 5- to 6-somite stage by removing the axial-paraxial hinge deprives the embryo of midline structures caudal to the brachial level, but does not prevent formation of the neural tube and mesoderm located posteriorly. However, the whole embryonic region generated posterior to the level of Hensen's node arrest undergoes widespread apoptosis within the next 24 hours. Hensen's node-derived structures (notochord and floor plate) thus appear to produce maintenance factor(s) that ensures the survival and further development of adjacent tissues.