During Xenopus gastrulation, mesendodermal cells are internalized and display different movements. Head mesoderm migrates along the blastocoel roof, while trunk mesoderm undergoes convergent extension (C&E). Different signals are implicated in these processes. Our previous studies reveal that signals through ErbB receptor tyrosine kinases modulate Xenopus gastrulation, but the mechanisms employed are not understood. Here we report that ErbB signals control both C&E and head mesoderm migration. Inhibition of ErbB pathway blocks elongation of dorsal marginal zone explants and activin-treated animal caps without removing mesodermal gene expression. Bipolar cell shape and cell mixing in the dorsal region are impaired. Inhibition of ErbB signaling also interferes with migration of prechordal mesoderm on fibronectin. Cell-cell and cell-matrix interaction and cell spreading are reduced when ErbB signaling is blocked. Using antisense morpholino oligonucleotides, we show that ErbB4 is involved in Xenopus gastrulation morphogenesis, and it partially regulates cell movements through modulation of cell adhesion and membrane protrusions. Our results reveal for the first time that vertebrate ErbB signaling modulates gastrulation movements, thus providing a novel pathway, in addition to non-canonical Wnt and FGF signals, that controls gastrulation. We further demonstrate that regulation of cell adhesive properties and cell morphology may underlie the functions of ErbBs in gastrulation. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.