The expression of epidermal growth factor (EGF) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFr) in developing teeth has been immunohistochemically studied in rat embryos (E-16 to E-21). Both EGF and EGFr showed a similar pattern of distribution. A very weak immunostaining was observed in the dental germ cells during the bud, cap, and bell teeth stages, as well as in few ectomesenchymal cells. In developed, but not erupted teeth, a moderate immunoreactivity for EGF and EGFr was present in the odontoblasts, in the ameloblasts and in the internal epithelial cells, but it was stronger in the dentine. In addition, the presence of EGF/EGFr was also observed in the intercalated ducts of salivary glands, primarily the submaxillary gland, in the maxillary bone cells, and in the cells of the peripheral and central nervous system. These results suggest that EGF has little or no effect during the early periods of tooth differentiation, whereas it is probably involved in the production of dentine. Moreover, EGF/EGFr seem to participate in the maturation and differentiation of other embryonic tissues such as tissues of the nervous system and bone.