The dorsal blastopore lip of the early Xenopus laevis gastrula can organize a complete secondary body axis when transplanted to another embryo. A search for potential gene regulatory components specifically expressed in the organizer was undertaken that resulted in the identification of four types of complementary DNAs from homeobox-containing genes that fulfill this criterion. The most abundant of these encodes a DNA-binding specificity similar to that of the Drosophila melanogaster anterior morphogen bicoid. The other three are also homologous to developmentally significant Drosophila genes. These four genes may participate in the regulation of the developmental potential of the organizer.