During early vertebrate development, members of the transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) family play important roles in a variety of processes, including germ layer specification, patterning, cell differentiation, migration, and organogenesis. The activities of TGFβs need to be tightly controlled to ensure their function at the right time and place. Despite identification of multiple regulators of Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) subfamily ligands, modulators of the activin/nodal class of TGFβ ligands are limited, and include follistatin, Cerberus, and Lefty. Recently, a membrane protein, tomoregulin-1 (TMEFF1, originally named X7365), was isolated and found to contain two follistatin modules in addition to an Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) domain, suggesting that TMEFF1 may participate in regulation of TGFβ function. Here, we show that, unlike follistatin and follistatin-related gene (FLRG), TMEFF1 inhibits nodal but not activin in Xenopus. Interestingly, both the follistatin modules and the EGF motif contribute to nodal inhibition. A soluble protein containing the follistatin and the EGF domains, however, is not sufficient for nodal inhibition; the location of TMEFF1 at the membrane is essential for its function. These results suggest that TMEFF1 inhibits nodal through a novel mechanism. TMEFF1 also blocks mesodermal, but not epidermal induction by BMP2. Unlike nodal inhibition, regulation of BMP activities by TMEFF1 requires the latter's cytoplasmic tail, while deletion of either the follistatin modules or the EGF motif does not interfere with the BMP inhibitory function of TMEFF1. These results imply that TMEFF1 may employ different mechanisms in the regulation of nodal and BMP signals. In Xenopus, TMEFF1 is expressed from midgastrula stages onward and is enriched in neural tissue derivatives. This expression pattern suggests that TMEFF1 may modulate nodal and BMP activities during neural patterning. In summary, our data demonstrate that tomoregulin-1 is a novel regulator of nodal and BMP signaling during early vertebrate embryogenesis. © 2003 Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.