The regeneration of the amputated tail of Xenopus laevis larvae is an excellent model system for regeneration research. The wound left by the amputated tail is covered with epidermis within 24 h. Then, the cell number increases near the amputation plane at the notochord, spinal cord and muscle regions. An apparently complete tail with notochord, muscle and spinal cord is regenerated within two weeks. To reveal whether the molecular mechanism underlying the tail regeneration is the same as that in embryonic tail development, the gene expression patterns of the embryonic tail bud and the regenerating tail were compared by in situ hybridization and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Most genes analyzed were expressed at similar levels in both tissues, whereas two bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-antagonists, chordin and noggin, were detected only in the embryonic tail bud. The regenerating tail also lacked expression of Xshh in the floor plate and expression of Xdelta-1 in the spinal cord and presomitic mesoderm. These results show that there are some differences in gene expression between the two processes. Furthermore, when the tail of Xenopus larvae is amputated, the regenerating tail has a gene expression pattern similar to the distal portion of the larval tail rather than the embryonic tail bud, suggesting that the cut larval tail does not make a new embryonic tail bud, but rather a new larval tail tip for regeneration.