Exogenously applied retinoic acid (RA) is known to affect cartilage pattern in developing and regenerating limbs. There are, however, few reports which analyze the participation of endogenous RA in limb pattern formation. Using an organ culture system, we attempted to reduce the concentration of endogenous RA in the developing chick wing buds by the treatment with citral (3,7-dimethyl-2,6-octadienal), an inhibitor of retinoic acid formation. After this treatment, the cultured wing buds were grafted to the stumps of host embryos. These citral-treated limb buds frequently formed truncated cartilage elements and the defects were rescued by simultaneous treatment with an appropriate concentration of RA. These results suggest that endogenous RA plays a role in chick limb bud development.