It has long been recognized that micromeres have special significance in early specification events in the sea urchin embryo. Micromeres have the ability to induce a secondary axis if transferred to the animal pole at the 16-cell stage of sea urchin embryos (Hörstadius, 1939). Without micromeres an isolated animal hemisphere develops into an ectodermal ball called a dauer blastula. Addition of micromeres to an animal half rescues a normal pluteus larva, including endoderm (Hörstadius, 1939). Despite these well-known experiments, however, neither the molecular basis of that induction nor the endogenous inductive role of micromeres in development was known. In recent experiments we learned that if one eliminates micromeres from the vegetal pole at the 16-cell stage the resulting embryo makes no secondary mesenchyme. Earlier it had been found that β-catenin is crucial for specification events that lead to mesoderm and endoderm (Wikra-manayake et al., 1998; Emily-Fenouil et al., 1998; Logan et al., 1999). We noticed that at the 16-cell stage β-catenin enters the nuclei of micromeres, then enters the nuclei of macromeres at the 32-cell stage (Logan et al., 1999). Since nuclear entry of β-catenin is known to be important for its signalling function in the Wnt pathway, we asked whether β-catenin functions in the micromere induction pathway.