Sequential expression of the K3/K12 keratin pair was studied during epithelial corneal differentiation, using monoclonal antibodies coupled with electrophoretic analysis. In the chick embryo, K12 appears on day 12, while K3 is present at least from day 11. By contrast, in the rabbit embryo, the expression of K12 (at 17 days) precedes that of K3 (at 21 days). In the adult rabbit, K3 is expressed without K12 in part of the limbus. Thus, within the corneal-type keratin pair, either the acidic or the basic partner appears first, according to the developmental stage or the species.