We examined the temporal and spatial expression patterns of the homeo box HOX-4 complex genes during the morphogenesis of the genitalia of mice. The results show that only those Hox-4 genes that are expressed very posteriorly in the trunk, or very distally in the limbs, seem to be involved in the patterning of the genital tubercle. This is consistent with the idea of "temporal colinearity", which suggests that the very last structure to require patterning during vertebrate development will express Hox genes located at the 5' extremity of the HOX complexes. We also show that genital tubercle mesenchyme can respecify pattern in the chicken wing bud. This finding reinforces the concept of the uniformity in the patterning mechanisms along the various axes of the body.