The cardiac neural crest is located in a transitional area on the neuraxis between trunk and cephalic regions and gives rise to both the dorsolateral and ventrolateral crest cell populations. Around stage 18 of chick development, a mass of E/C8+ cells surrounds the postotic pharyngeal arches and forms a crescent-shaped arch, termed the circumpharyngeal ridge. Using immunohistochemistry and quail-chick chimeras, it was determined that the E/C8+ cell mass located in the circumpharyngeal ridge derives from the dorsolateral component of the cardiac neural crest. The ventrolateral cell population of the cardiac crest is located more medially and shows long-persistent HNK-1 immunoreactivity dorsolateral to the foregut. The crest cells that populate the gut arise from the caudal portion of the circumpharyngeal crest and are always located caudal to the caudalmost pharyngeal ectomesenchyme. Circumpharyngeal crest cells continuously populate the pharyngeal arch ectomesenchyme and enteric nervous system on the lateral side of the foregut wall, as well as the hypoglossal pathway which develops within the ventral portion of the circumpharyngeal ridge. E/C8 and HNK-1 immunoreactivity are associated with the cells migrating via the dorsolateral (circumpharyngeal) and ventrolateral pathways, respectively, with one exception: there is a population of putative crest cells along the proximal course of the vagal intestinal branch that shows both immunoreactivities around stage 20. Dil labeling of the cells in the circumpharyngeal ridge suggests that the cells are contributed from the circumpharyngeal ridge to this population. Thus, the distribution of the circumpharyngeal crest cells and their derivatives coincides with the peripheral branch distribution of the cranial nerves IX, X, and XII, whose development is selectively affected in the absence of the cardiac neural crest, the source of the circumpharyngeal crest.© Willey-Liss, Inc.