Using the prominent cell nucleus as an intrinsic marker, individual deep cell blastomeres have been monitored in vivo using Nomarski differential interference contrast microscopy during spreading of the teleost blastoderm. Involution of these cells has been recorded during early to mid stages of epiboly about an apparent point of shear located centrally within the germ ring. This involuting movement involves superficial deep cells, adjacent to the enveloping layer, as well as those located more centrally within the germ ring and is associated with a continuous vegetal displacement of the outer strata of deep cell blastomeres towards the edge of the blastodisc. During the early stages of epiboly this process is qualitatively similar at any location around the entire circumferential margin of the blastodisc. Postinvoluting deep cells are found close to the yolk syncytial layer, are surrounded by considerable intercellular space and illustrate less directional displacement. In contrast to the deep cell layer, the enveloping layer was never observed to invaginate. These results contradict the current view that no involution or global rearrangement of deep cells occurs during teleost gastrulation and present the first direct evidence of involution within the deep cell population during early epiboly.

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