The Drosophila and vertebrate slit proteins have been characterized as secreted chemorepellents recognized by the robo receptor proteins that function principally for the guidance of neuronal axons and neurons. slit genes are also expressed in the limb. To provide a basis for the determination of slit functions in the limb we have isolated and characterized the expression of chick slit-2 and slit-3 in the developing limb and other tissues of the chick embryo. Both genes share similar expression profiles in the chick embryo when compared to that of their mammalian homologues, particularly in the neural tube. In the limb, their expression patterns suggest their involvement in many aspects of limb development. In the early limb bud, slit-2 is expressed in the peripheral mesenchyme and invading muscle precursors, while slit-3 expression is restricted to the future chondrogenic core of the limb bud. At later stages, both slit genes are expressed in interdigital mesenchyme, in inner periosteal cells, and in mesenchyme immediately radial to the periosteum and under the epidermis. slit-3 is also expressed in proliferating chondrocytes during cartilage development, while slit-2 is expressed in later muscle masses and peripherally to joints in the autopod. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.