The vertebrate limbs develop through coordinated series of inductive, growth and patterning events. Fibroblast Growth Factor receptor 2b (FGFR2b) signaling controls the induction of the Apical Ectodermal Ridge (AER) but its putative roles in limb outgrowth and patterning, as well as in AER morphology and cell behavior have remained unclear. We have investigated these roles through graded and reversible expression of soluble dominant-negative FGFR2b molecules at various times during mouse limb development, using a doxycycline/transactivator/tet(O)-responsive system. Transient attenuation (≤24 hours) of FGFR2b-ligands signaling at E8.5, prior to limb bud induction, leads mostly to the loss or truncation of proximal skeletal elements with less severe impact on distal elements. Attenuation from E9.5 onwards, however, has an irreversible effect on the stability of the AER, resulting in a progressive loss of distal limb skeletal elements. The primary consequences of FGFR2b-ligands attenuation is a transient loss of cell adhesion and down-regulation of P63, β1-integrin and E-cadherin, and a permanent loss of cellular β-catenin organization and WNT signaling within the AER. Combined, these effects lead to the progressive transformation of the AER cells from pluristratified to squamous epithelial-like cells within 24 hours of doxycycline administration. These findings show that FGFR2b-ligands signaling has critical stage-specific roles in maintaining the AER during limb development.