On p. 4623,Escalante-Alcalde et al. report that certain phospholipids, which are known to influence cellular morphology and locomotion in vitro, may be important during development. Phospholipid availability is regulated by lipid phosphate phosphatases (LPPs), and the researchers reveal that LPP3 has a tissue-specific and dynamic pattern of expression during post-implantation mouse development. In mouse embryos carrying a deletion in LPP3,early vascular development - the formation of an intact yolk sac and the allantoic vasculature - was defective. In addition, some LPP3 mutant embryos had a shortened anteroposterior axis and duplicated axial structures,defects also seen in embryos with defective Wnt signalling. These and other results indicate that LPP3 is a multifunctional protein that is essential for different aspects of embryonic development and possibly acts both through its lipid phosphatase, and other unknown, activities.