Three polypeptide chains, A, B1, and B2, have been described for mouse laminin, a basement membrane protein. We studied expression of laminin A, B1, and B2 mRNA in the developing mouse kidney. Induction of kidney mesenchyme differentiation in vitro led to an increased expression of B1 and B2 chain mRNA on day 1 of development. In contrast, expression of A chain mRNA increased on day 2, when epithelial cell polarization begins. Laminin A mRNA and polypeptide were expressed only by epithelia during in vivo development as well. Some polarized cell types producing basement membrane (endothelium, some adult epithelia) lacked the A chain mRNA and polypeptide, although they did express B chains. Laminin with the 400 kd A chain is therefore a transient form appearing at specific sites of kidney morphogenesis, whereas isoforms with a different A chain or without it have a more widespread distribution.