The mesencephalic and rhombencephalic levels of origin of the hypobranchial skeleton (lower jaw and hyoid bone) within the neural fold have been determined at the 5-somite stage with a resolution corresponding to each single rhombomere, by means of the quail-chick chimera technique. Expression of certain Hox genes (Hoxa-2, Hoxa-3 and Hoxb-4) was recorded in the branchial arches of chick and quail embryos at embryonic days 3 (E3) and E4. This was a prerequisite for studying the regeneration capacities of the neural crest, after the dorsal neural tube was resected at the mesencephalic and rhombencephalic level. We found first that excisions at the 5-somite stage extending from the midmesencephalon down to r8 are followed by the regeneration of neural crest cells able to compensate for the deficiencies so produced. This confirmed the results of previous authors who made similar excisions at comparable (or older) developmental stages. When a bilateral excision was followed by the unilateral homotopic graft of the dorsal neural tube from a quail embryo, thus mimicking the situation created by a unilateral excision, we found that the migration of the grafted unilateral neural crest (quail-labelled) is bilateral and compensates massively for the missing crest derivatives. The capacity of the intermediate and ventral neural tube to yield neural crest cells was tested by removing the chick rhombencephalic neural tube and replacing it either uni- or bilaterally with a ventral tube coming from a stage-matched quail. No neural crest cells exited from the ventral neural tube but no deficiency in neural crest derivatives was recorded. Crest cells were found to regenerate from the ends of the operated region. This was demonstrated by grafting fragments of quail neural fold at the extremities of the excised territory. Quail neural crest cells were seen migrating longitudinally from both the rostral and caudal ends of the operated region and filling the branchial arches located inbetween. Comparison of the behaviour of neural crest cells in this experimental situation with that showed by their normal fate map revealed that crest cells increase their proliferation rate and change their migratory behaviour without modifying their Hox code.