Turkey leg tendons were used as a model tissue to study the spatial and temporal relationships of mineral deposition between matrix vesicles and collagen fibrils by various electron microscopic techniques--bright field, selected-area dark field (SADF), and electron spectroscopic imaging (ESI). These latter imaging techniques enabled the direct localization and spatial distributions of both apatite crystals and atomic elements (Ca, P) within matrix vesicles and collagen. In longitudinal planes of section, a consistent vectorial gradient of mineralization was observed which started with the first localization of apatite mineral in matrix vesicles; with further development, the mineral spread from the vesicle to the extravesicular interstices and then into the adjacent collagen fibrils. Once intrafibrillar, the mineral was observed to advance both laterally and axially. The association of vesicle/collagen mineral was examined by ESI analysis of Ca and P elemental maps and appeared as a continuum between the vesicles and the adjacent collagen fibrils. Similarly, an intimate spatial relationship was observed between the mineral of vesicles and collagen in transversely cut sections of tendon. The sequential development of this mineralized matrix is discussed in light of matrix vesicle/collagen interactions.