It has been shown by using the quail/chick chimera system that Hox gene expression in the hindbrain is influenced by positional signals arising from the environment. In order to decipher the pathway that leads to Hox gene induction, we have investigated whether a Hox gene regulator, the leucine zipper transcription factor is itself transcriptionally regulated by the environmental signals. This gene is normally expressed in rhombomeres (r) 5 and 6 and their associated neural crest, MafB/Kr expression is maintained in r5/6 when grafted into the environment of r3/4. On the contrary, the environment of rhombomeres 7/8 represses MafB/Kr expression. Thus, as previously shown for the expression of Hox genes, MafB/Kr expression is regulated by a posterior-dominant signal, which in this case induces the loss of expression of this gene. We also show that the posterior signal can be transferred to the r5/6 neuroepithelium by posterior somites (somites 7 to 10) grafted laterally to r5/6, At the r4 level, the same somites induce MafB/Kr in r4, leading it to behave like r5/6, The posterior environment regulates MafB/Kr expression in the neural crest as it does in the corresponding hindbrain level, showing that some positional regulatory mechanisms are shared by neural tube and neural crest cells. Retinoic acid beads mimic the effect produced by the somites in repressing MafB/Kr in r5/6 and progressively inducing it more rostrally as its concentration increases. We therefore propose that the MafB/Kr expression domain is defined by a molecule unevenly distributed in the paraxial mesoderm, This molecule would allow the expression of the MafB/Kr gene in a narrow window of concentration by activating its expression at a definite threshold and repressing it at higher levels, accounting for its limited domain of expression in only two rhombomeres, It thus appears that the regulation of MafB/Kr expression in the rhombomeres could be controlled by the same posteriorizing factor(s) as Hox genes.