Despite its clinical significance, joint morphogenesis is still an obscure process. In this study, we determine the role of transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) signaling in mice lacking the TGF-beta type II receptor gene (Tgfbr2) in their limbs (Tgfbr2(PRX-1KO)). In Tgfbr2(PRX-1KO) mice, the loss of TGF-beta responsiveness resulted in the absence of interphalangeal joints. The Tgfbr2(Prx1KO) joint phenotype is similar to that in patients with symphalangism (SYM1-OMIM185800). By generating a Tgfbr2-green fluorescent protein-beta-GEO-bacterial artificial chromosome beta-galactosidase reporter transgenic mouse and by in situ hybridization and immunofluorescence, we determined that Tgfbr2 is highly and specifically expressed in developing joints. We demonstrated that in Tgfbr2(PRX-1KO) mice, the failure of joint interzone development resulted from an aberrant persistence of differentiated chondrocytes and failure of Jagged-1 expression. We found that TGF-beta receptor II signaling regulates Noggin, Wnt9a, and growth and differentiation factor-5 joint morphogenic gene expressions. In Tgfbr2(PRX-1KO) growth plates adjacent to interphalangeal joints, Indian hedgehog expression is increased, whereas Collagen 10 expression decreased. We propose a model for joint development in which TGF-beta signaling represents a means of entry to initiate the process.