It is well established that Hensen's nodes can induce the formation of supernumerary digits after grafting into the anterior margin of the developing limb bud. The recent finding that distinct mesodermal cell populations are segregated within the node has made it possible to isolate different prospective cell types in an attempt to correlate digit-inducing ability with cell fate. We find that the prospective notochord cells contained within Hensen's node are able to induce supernumerary digits, whereas presumptive somite cells cannot. This early difference in inducing ability persists into later stages of development: epithelial somites are unable to induce while notochord from all lengths of the neuraxis continues to induce. Using probes to retinoic acid receptor-beta 2 and sonic hedgehog (shh) we find no evidence to support the idea that inducing tissues generate extra digits by releasing retinoic acid into adjacent limb tissue but find that the inducing ability of a tissue correlates with its expression of shh.