We describe a polymerase chain reaction which amplifies part of the Eco RI repeat unit of the fowl W chromosome. The resulting 447 bp fragment enables DNA from female birds to be identified. The composition of this DNA is confirmed by a nested polymerase chain reaction which specifically amplifies a known internal 263 bp region in this fragment. Using this technique it is possible to follow the fate of female cells in male germline chimaeras. The polymerase chain reaction fragment can be traced in cells of the embryonic and hatchling gonad and in adult sperm implying that cells containing the W chromosome are capable of being processed through the avian testis.