The morphogenesis of long bones is a multistep process that generates a variety of genetically defined forms. The tarsometatarsal (TMT) long bone morphology in birds develops through lateral fusion of three initially independent periosteal bone cylinders (BCs). Previous studies have clarified the histological details and chronology of the changes occurring during development. The present study investigated the temporospatial distribution of osteogenic and osteoclastic cells in the embryonic chicken using histochemistry for alkaline phosphatase and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase, with particular reference to the radial growth of BCs and their subsequent fusion process. Osteogenic cells were localized preferentially in the periosteum of radially growing BCs, leaving open cancellous spaces in the BC wall. Osteoclasts observed later than embryonic day 10 were localized preferentially in the endosteal surface, and therefore the radial growth of BCs resulting from osteoblast activity was accompanied by endosteal resorption by osteoclasts, with progressive enlargement of the bone marrow spaces. During BC fusion, trabecular bridges were formed by periosteal osteogenic cells, with removal of the bone septum by endosteal osteoclasts. These findings suggest that fusion of BCs in the embryonic chicken is mediated by cellular events constituting ordinary long bone development, and not through a defined mechanism specific for fusion.