Bilateral innervation allows more than 80% of the 610 vallate taste buds to survive removal of one IXth nerve in adult rats. Removal of both IXth nerves in neonatal or adult rats results in the absence of taste buds. In studying development, we found that removing or crushing one IXth nerve in three-day-old neonates profoundly decreased the number of vallate taste buds that subsequently developed. Specifically, after removal of one IXth nerve at 3 days, only 228 taste buds formed, compared with 496 taste buds that one nerve would maintain in adults. Thus, during normal development, the right and left IXth nerves interact synergistically, as at least 150 more taste buds develop than predicted by the sum of the independent action of each IXth nerve. This suggests that vallate taste buds are induced by the IXth nerve. A second example of synergism, representing evidence for the neural induction of taste buds, came from experiments in which we crushed the left IXth nerve 3 days after birth and found that these regenerated IXth nerve axons induced 4 times as many taste buds in the presence of the normal right IXth nerve (118 taste buds) as in its early absence (30 taste buds). We conclude that taste buds are neurally induced and that axons of the IXth nerve interact synergistically in inducing them, rather than competing for targets. We propose that in development innervated progenitor cells form stem cells which lead to taste bud cells.