The apical ectodermal ridge (AER) is a specialized epithelium located at the distal edge of the limb bud that directs outgrowth along the proximodistal axis. Although the molecular basis for its function is well known, the cellular mechanisms that lead to its maturation are not fully understood. Here, we show that Arid3b, a member of the ARID family of transcriptional regulators, is expressed in the AER in mouse and chick embryos, and that interference with its activity leads to aberrant AER development, in which normal structure is not achieved. This happens without alterations in cell numbers or gene expression in main signalling pathways. Cells that are defective in Arid3b show an abnormal distribution of the actin cytoskeleton and decreased motility in vitro. Moreover, movements of pre-AER cells and their contribution to the AER were defective in vivo in embryos with reduced Arid3b function. Our results show that Arid3b is involved in the regulation of cell motility and rearrangements that lead to AER maturation.