In zebrafish acerebellar (ace) embryos, because of a point mutation in fgf8, the isthmic constriction containing the midbrain-hindbrain boundary (MHB) organizer fails to form. The mutants lack cerebellar development by morphological criteria, and they appear to have an enlarged tectum, showing no obvious reduction in the tissue mass at the dorsal mesencephalic/metencephalic alar plate. To reveal the molecular identity of the tissues located at equivalent rostrocaudal positions along the neuraxis as the isthmic and cerebellar primordia in wild-types, we undertook a detailed analysis of ace embryos. In ace mutants, the appearance of forebrain and midbrain specific marker genes (otx2, dmbx1, wnt4) in the caudal tectal enlargement reveals a marked rostralized gene expression profile during early somitogenesis, followed by the lack of early and late cerebellar-specific gene expression (zath1/atoh1, gap43, tag1/cntn2, neurod, zebrin II). The Locus coeruleus (LC) derived from rostral rhombomere 1 is also absent in the mutants. A new interface between otx2 and epha4a suggests that the rostralization stops at the caudal part of rhombomere 1. The mesencephalic basal plate is also affected in the mutant embryos, as indicated by the caudal expansion of the diencephalic expression domains of epha4a, zash1b/ashb, gap43 and tag1/cntn2, and by the dramatic reduction of twhh expression. No marked differences are seen in cell proliferation and apoptotic patterns around the time the rostralization of gene expression becomes evident in the mutants. Therefore, locally distinct cell proliferation and cell death is unlikely to be the cause of the fate alteration of the isthmic and cerebellar primordia in the mutants. Dil cell-lineage labeling of isthmic primordial cells reveals that cells, at the location equivalent of the wild-type MHB, give rise to caudal tectum in ace embryos. This suggests that a caudalto-rostral transformation leads to the tectal expansion in the mutants. Fgf8-coated beads are able to rescue morphological MHB formation, and elicit the normal molecular identity of the isthmic and cerebellar primordium in ace embryos. Taken together, our analysis reveals that cells of the isthmic and cerebellar primordia acquire a more rostral, tectal identity in the absence of the functional MHB organizer signal Fgf8.