An expression cloning strategy in Xenopus laevis was used to isolate a homeobox-containing gene, Mixer, that can cause embryonic cells to form endoderm. Mixer transcripts are found specifically in the prospective endoderm of gastrula, which coincides with the time and place that endodermal cells become histologically distinct and irreversibly determined. Loss-of-function studies with a dominant inhibitory mutant demonstrate that Mixer activity is required for endoderm development. In particular, the expression of Sox17alpha and Sox17beta, two previously identified endodermal determinants, require Mixer function. Together, these data suggest that Mixer is an embryonic transcription factor involved in specifying the endodermal germ layer.