We have characterized the constitutive and stress-inducible pattern of immunoglobulin-binding protein (BiP) gene expression during Xenopus early development. Whole mount in situ hybridization analysis revealed that BiP mRNA was detected in unfertilized eggs, cleavage and blastula stage embryos. In gastrulae, BiP mRNA was present across the surface of the embryo, while in neurulae BiP mRNA was enriched in the neural plate, neural fold, and around the blastopore. In early and late tailbud embryos, BiP mRNA was found primarily in the dorsal region. Tunicamycin and A23187, the calcium ionophore, enhanced BiP mRNA accumulation first at the neurula stage, while heat shock induced BiP mRNA accumulation first at the gastrula stage. Compared to control, A23187- and heat shock-treated neurulae displayed relatively high levels of BiP mRNA in selected tissues, including the neural plate, neural folds, around the blastopore, and ectoderm. At the early tailbud stage, A23187 and heat shock enhanced BiP mRNA accumulation primarily in the head, somites, tail, and along the spinal cord. A similar situation was found with A23187- and heat shock-treated late tailbud embryos, except that heat-shocked embryos also displayed enhanced BiP mRNA accumulation in the epidermis. These studies demonstrate a preferential accumulation of BiP mRNA in selected tissues during development and in response to stress.