Vertebrate Hoxd genes are sequentially activated during the morphogenesis and pattern formation of the limb. Using the approach of gene disruption via homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells, we have assessed the function of the last gene of the complex, Hoxd-13. Mutant mice displayed skeletal alterations along all body axes suggesting the existence of a general multiaxial patterning system. In limbs, abnormalities such as a reduction in the length of some bony elements, loss of phalanges, bone fusions, and the presence of an extra element were observed. We propose that the mutation induces local heterochrony, as illustrated by an important retardation in limb morphogenesis. The relevance of these observations to our understanding of the development and evolution of the tetrapod limb is discussed.