The vertebrate body forms in an anterior-to-posterior progression, driven by a population of undifferentiated cells at the posterior-most end of the embryo. Recent studies have demonstrated that these undifferentiated cells are multipotent stem cells, suggesting that local signaling factors specify cell fate. However, the mechanism of cell fate specification during this process is unknown. Using a combination of single cell transplantation and newly developed cell-autonomous inducible Wnt inhibitor and activator transgenic zebrafish lines, we show that canonical Wnt signaling is continuously necessary and sufficient to specify mesoderm from a bipotential neural/mesodermal precursor. Surprisingly, we also find that Wnt signaling functions subsequently within the mesoderm to specify somites instead of posterior vascular endothelium. Our results demonstrate that dynamic local Wnt signaling cues specify germ layer contribution and mesodermal tissue type specification of multipotent stem cells throughout the formation of the early vertebrate embryonic body.