The study of regeneration in an in vivo vertebrate system has the potential to reveal targetable genes and pathways that could improve our ability to heal and repair damaged tissue. We have developed a system for clonal labeling of discrete cell lineages and independently inducing gene expression under control of the heat shock promoter in the zebrafish caudal fin. Consequently we are able to test the affects of overexpressing a single gene in the context of regeneration within each of the nine different cell lineage classes that comprise the caudal fin. This can test which lineage is necessary or sufficient to provide gene function. As a first example to demonstrate this approach, we explored which lineages were competent to functionally express the kit ligand a protein as assessed by the local complementation of the mutation in the sparse-like (kitlgatc244b) background. We show that dermal fibroblast expression of kit ligand a robustly supports the rescue of melanocytes in the regenerating caudal fin. kit ligand a expression from skin and osteoblasts results in more modest and variable rescue of melanocytes, while lateral line expression was unable to complement the mutation.