During hindbrain development, cells become segregated into segmental groups, rhombomeres, by mechanisms that are presently unknown. One contributory factor early in development may be an alternating periodicity in cell surface properties down the neuraxis. This possibility was previously suggested by experiments in which tissue from different segmental levels was apposed in the absence of a boundary. New boundaries were regenerated only when rhombomeres from adjacent positions or positions three rhombomeres distant from one another were apposed. Combinations of two odd-numbered or two even-numbered rhombomeres usually failed to generate a boundary. In order to pursue this phenomenon to the cellular level, we have used two approaches, both involving donor-to-host transplantation. First, quail rhombomeres were grafted at various hindbrain levels of a chick host. Apposition of rhombomere 4 (r4) with r3 was concomitant with negligible cell mixing across the interface. By contrast, combinations of r3 with r5 or with r3 tissue led to cell mixing that was more extensive in combinations of identical rhombomeres (r3 with r3) than between two alternate ones (r3 with r5). Secondly, we grafted small pieces of fluorescently prelabelled chick rhombomere tissue at various hindbrain levels of chick hosts. In most cases, cells dispersed widely when transplanted orthopically or two segments distant from that of their origin. Cells transplanted into an adjacent segment, however, showed a tendency to remain undispersed. Among the different graft combinations, furthermore, there was a variation in the extent of dispersal that showed an additional level of complexity not revealed in boundary regeneration experiments. The possibility is raised that the early partitioning of rhombomeres involves a hierarchy in the adhesive preferences of cell-cell interactions along the neuraxis.