In quail oviduct epithelium, as in all metazoan and protozoan ciliated cells, cilia beat in a coordinated cycle. They are arranged in a polarized pattern oriented according to the anteroposterior axis of the oviduct and are most likely responsible for transport of the ovum and egg white proteins from the infundibulum toward the uterus. Orientation of ciliary beating is related to that of the basal bodies, indicated by the location of the lateral basal foot, which points in the direction of the active stroke of ciliary beating. This arrangement of the ciliary cortex occurs as the ultimate step in ciliogenesis and following the oviduct development. Cilia first develop in a random orientation and reorient later, simultaneously with the development of the cortical cytoskeleton. In order to know when the final orientation of basal bodies and cilia is determined in the course of oviduct development, microsurgical reversal of a segment of the immature oviduct was performed. Then, after hormone-induced development and ciliogenesis, ciliary orientation was examined in the inverted segment and in normal parts of the ciliated epithelium. In the inverted segment, orientation was reversed, as shown by a video recording of the direction of effective flow produced by beating cilia, by the three-dimensional bending forms of cilia immobilized during the beating cycle and screened by scanning electron microscopy, and by the position of basal body appendages as seen in thin sections by transmission electron microscopy. These results demonstrate that basal body and ciliary orientation are irreversibly determined prior to development by an endogenous signal present early in the cells of the immature oviduct, transmitted to daughter cells during the proliferative phase and expressed at the end of ciliogenesis.