Are the basement membrane (BM) molecules involved in epithelial-mesenchymal cell interactions known to be instrumental in intestinal development and differentiation? Several findings argue in favor of this assumption. First, quantitative and/or qualitative changes in type IV collagen, laminin-nidogen and heparan sulfate proteoglycan (HSPG) are obvious at the phases of intensive morphogenesis. Second, BM molecules deposited at the epithelial-mesenchymal interface are of dual origin: HSPG being produced by the epithelial cell population, while others like type IV collagen and laminin are mainly produced by the mesenchymal compartment. Third, the formation of the BM requires an actual contact between the epithelial and mesenchymal cells and always precedes the expression of differentiation markers in the epithelial cells. These data suggest that BM molecules display an instructive role in intestinal cell interactions.