Follistatin is a specific activin-binding protein and is supposed to control activin functions. During Xenopus embryonic development, activin is thought to act as a natural mesoderm-inducing factor. We isolated here the Xenopus follistatin cDNA from Xenopus ovary cDNA library and studied the expression of Xenopus follistatin gene during the course of early embryonic development. The Xenopus follistatin has an 84% homology at the level of deduced amino acid sequence with human and porcine follistatin. Its 3.5 kb mRNA is first expressed at the gastrula stage, when the expression of activin mRNA becomes first detectable, and increased thereafter. Another species of 2 kb mRNA become detectable from early neurula and also increased dramatically in tadpole. These results suggest that the follistatin acts also as a regulator of activin in inductive interactions during amphibian embryonic development.