Identifying genes involved in vertebrate developmental processes and characterizing this involvement are daunting tasks, especially in the mouse where viviparity complicates investigations. Attempting to devise a streamlined approach for this type of study we focused on limb development. We cultured E10.5 and E12.5 embryos and performed transcriptional profiling to track molecular changes in the forelimb bud over a 6-hour time-window. The expression of certain genes was found to diverge rapidly from its normal path, possibly reflecting the activation of a stress-induced response. Others, however, maintained for up to 3 hours dynamic expression profiles similar to those seen in utero. Some of these resilient genes were known regulators of limb development. The implication of the others in this process was either unsuspected or unsubstantiated. The localized knockdown of two such genes, Fgf11 and Tbx1, hampered forelimb bud development, providing evidence of their implication. These results show that combining embryo culture, transcriptome analysis and RNA interference could speed up the identification of genes involved in a variety of developmental processes, and the validation of their implication.