Limb bud mesoderm of stage 22-23 embryos was dissected into four pieces along the anteroposterior axis and dissociated cells of each region were separately cultured under various conditions. When the cells were cultured in medium containing 0.1% fetal calf serum (serum-poor medium) only a slight increase in cell number occurred in the cultures of all four regions. However, when the cells were cultured in medium containing 10% FCS, only cells of two central regions proliferated rapidly, and no growth promotion was observed in cells in the most anterior and posterior regions. Using the serum-poor medium, we examined the growth-promoting effects of cocultured limb bud fragments and of some growth factors on the cells of four regions. Anterior, distal, and proximal fragments promoted cell proliferation and their promotive effect on the cells of each region was equal. On the other hand, posterior fragments (containing ZPA) showed stronger promotive effects on preaxial cells than on postaxial cells. For comparison with the growth-promotive effect of the posterior fragment, fibroblast growth factor (FGF), epidermal growth factor (EGF), insulin, and retinoic acid were tested in cell culture. FGF showed position-dependent growth promotion, while EGF and insulin promoted growth in the cells of all four regions to a similar degree. Retinoic acid showed no effect on cell growth at low concentrations, and was rather toxic at high concentrations. These results suggest that the cells of the posterior region secrete an FGF-like growth factor(s), which controls normal limb development and experimental duplicate formation.