The production of phenotype is regulated by differential gene expression. However, the regulators of gene expression need not all reside within the embryo. Environmental factors, such as temperature, photoperiod, diet, population density, or the presence of predators, can produce specific phenotypes, presumably by altering gene-expression patterns. The field of ecological developmental biology seeks to look at development in the real world of predators, competitors, and changing seasons. Ecological concerns had played a major role in the formation of experimental embryology, and they are returning as the need for knowledge about the effects of environmental change on embryos and larvae becomes crucial. This essay reviews some of the areas of ecological developmental biology, concentrating on new studies of amphibia and Homo. Copyright 2001 Academic Press.