We have examined the pattern of expression of the Lewis group carbohydrate antigens during the development of African toad Xenopus laevis. One of these antigens, Lewis x (Le(x), also known as SSEA-1), was previously shown to be involved in cell-cell adhesion in early mouse embryos and teratocarcinoma stem cells. Recently another member of these antigens, sialyl-Le(x), was found to be one of the major ligands for the selectin family of cell-cell adhesion molecules. In order to study the role of carbohydrate-mediated cell adhesion during Xenopus development, we first studied the expression pattern of the Le(x). We found that Le(x)was not expressed in early embryos, started to be expressed at the tail bud stage in anterior regions of the body such as the cement gland or head skin, and was gradually showed more posterial expression at later stages. At tadpole stage, it was also expressed on specific cell bodies in brain, and in axon region in brain and neural retina. Antibodies against Le(x)blocked neurite outgrowth in the explant culture of tadpole brain. One of the candidates for Le(x)carrier protein in the tadpole brain is a 200 kDa glycoprotein detected by Western blotting. In adult tissues, it was expressed in brain, testis, and gut, but not in kidney, lung, spleen, ovary, or muscle. We also examined the expression patterns of other Lewis group antigens. Among them, sialyl-Le(x)was expressed on endothelial cells and on leukocytes, suggesting the possibility that it functions as a ligand for selectin in Xenopus.