The expression of laminin, a major glycoprotein constituent of basement membranes, was investigated in the rat developing intestine. The biosynthesis of laminin was studied after metabolic labeling of intestinal segments taken at various stages of development; the neosynthesized laminin was purified by affinity chromatography on heparin-Sepharose. Immunoblotting and immunoprecipitation experiments allowed us to analyze its constitutive chains. The data show that laminin is synthesized in very large amounts at 16–18 days of gestation concomitant with the onset of intestinal morphogenetic movements, i.e. villus emergence. Evaluation of the relative proportion of individual laminin polypeptides shows that laminin B1/B2 chains are produced in excess of A chains whatever the developmental stage considered. Interestingly at 17 days of gestation, levels of laminin A subunits are maximal. A second rise in the A/B chain ratio starts around birth and continues until adulthood. These quantitative data are corroborated by the immunocytochemical detection of laminin A and B chains, which revealed a specific spatiotemporal pattern. The finding that laminin A chains are located in the basement membrane of growing villi and of adult crypts raises the possibility that they may be involved in the process of cell growth and/or in the establishment of cell polarity by creating a specialized extracellular microenvironment.