Abstract When the subridge mesoderm of the embryonic chick limb bud is cultured in the absence of the apical ectodermal ridge and adjacent ectoderm, the cells rapidly progress through the various stages of chondrogenesis. During the first day of culture, the cells initiate condensation, and during subsequent days, deposit a cartilage matrix. In the present study, we show that early in the first day there is a progressive 2-fold increase in cell surface galactosyltransferase activity towards endogenous acceptors. Later in the first day, although the cells are still in condensation, endogenous galactosyltransferase activity has decreased, suggesting in situ galactosylation of surface acceptors. During subsequent development, when cartilage matrix is being deposited, surface galactosyltransferase activity remains low. All controls have been performed to insure cell surface localization of enzyme activity. Two other surface glycosyltransferases show very low levels of activity, which do not change significantly during culture. We suggest that during cellular condensation, an interaction between surface galactosyltransferases and acceptors on adjacent cells occurs, and this interaction may be causally related to subsequent chondrogenic differentiation.