The histogenesis of colloid cyst of the third ventricle remains unsettled. Ultrastructural and immunohistochemical analyses have suggested the following possible origins: (a) neuroepithelium, including paraphysis, ependyma, choroid plexus and tela chorioidea; and (b) endoderm, including respiratory and enteric epithelium. This report describes the ultrastructural features of the lining epithelium in four cases of colloid cyst. Six distinct cell types were recognized: (1) ciliated cells with occasional abnormal cilia; (2) non-ciliated cells with microvilli coated with granulofibrillary material; (3) goblet cells showing discharge of secretory granules; (4) basal cells with prominent tonofilaments and desmosomes; (5) basal-located cells with elongated electron-lucent cytoplasm and scattered membrane-bound dense-core granules (150-350 nm); and (6) small undifferentiated cells with scanty organelles. Junctional complexes were present in the former four cell types but absent in the latter two. The types of epithelial cells and their topographic distribution within the epithelium are both very similar to those of normal respiratory epithelium and to the lining epithelium of intraspinal bronchogenic cyst. The observations made in the present study are compatible with the hypothesis that colloid cysts of the third ventricle originate from the endoderm, most likely the respiratory epithelium.