Study of cell lineage in the mammalian embryo has relied heavily on the use of chimeras to follow the fate of genetically marked cells in later development. Such studies have often been limited by the types of genetic markers available; there are very few markers that allow analysis of the spatial distribution of individual cells at all stages of development. We have developed a marker system that is based on the identification of cells of Mus musculus origin in M. musculus-M. caroli chimeras by in situ DNA-DNA hybridization using a cloned probe to M. musculus satellite DNA. This provides the first ubiquitous in situ cell marker system for mammalian chimeras. We have recently refined the system by the use of biotin-labelled probes and detection of hybridization by streptavidin-peroxidase binding. This increases both the speed and the resolution of the assay. We have used the marker for cell lineage analysis in both embryonic and adult chimeras and results from analysis of the derivatives of early cell lineages in later development and study of coherent growth versus cell mixing in the postimplantation embryo are presented. The importance of understanding embryonic cell lineages as a prelude to molecular studies is emphasized.