To understand the developmental mechanism that determines limb size and the consequent limb-to-trunk proportions in the tetrapod body, we investigated the role of the paraxial mesoderm in the specification of the limb and flank fields in the chick embryo. We found that the paraxial mesoderm subjacent to the limb field can affect the size of the limb bud along the anterior–posterior and proximal–distal axes. We also found that the paraxial mesoderm subjacent to the flank plays roles in suppressing the emergence and growth of the limb bud and in promoting flank-specific apoptosis in the lateral plate mesoderm. Our results suggest that signals from the paraxial mesoderm specify the limb and flank fields in the competent lateral plate mesoderm. Developmental Dynamics 240:1639–1649, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.