Enteric neurons arise from vagal and sacral level neural crest cells. To examine the phenotype of neural-crest-derived cells in vagal and sacral pathways, we used antisera to Sox10, p75, Phox2b, and Hu, and transgenic mice in which the expression of green fluorescent protein was under the control of the Ret promoter. Sox10 was expressed prior to the emigration of vagal cells, whereas p75 was expressed shortly after their emigration. Most crest-derived cells that emigrated adjacent to somites 1-4 migrated along a pathway that was later followed by the vagus nerve. A sub-population of these vagal cells coalesced to form vagal ganglia, whereas others continued their migration towards the heart and gut. Cells that coalesced into vagal ganglia showed a different phenotype from cells in the migratory streams proximal and distal to the ganglia. Only a sub-population of the vagal cells that first entered the foregut expressed Phox2b or Ret. Sacral neural crest cells gave rise to pelvic ganglia and some neurons in the hindgut. The pathways of sacral neural crest cells were examined by using DbetaH-nlacZ mice. Sacral cells appeared to enter the distal hindgut around embryonic day 14.5. Very few of the previously demonstrated, but rare, neurons that were present in the large intestine of Ret null mutants and that presumably arose from the sacral neural crest expressed nitric oxide synthase, unlike their counterparts in Ret heterozygous mice.