Described are two germ-layer specific molecules that appear coincident with the formation of two germ layer cell lineages in the sea urchin embryo. Meso1 is a molecule of 380 kDa that is first detected at the time of primary mesenchyme cell delamination from the wall of the blastula. Endo1 is a molecule of 320 kDa that appears on endoderm cells at the time of archenteron formation a few hours after Meso1 appears. Both antigens are identified by monoclonal antibodies. The appearance of these antigens is described by immunofluorescence microscopy, and quantitative data on their localization has been obtained by ultrastructural immunoelectron microscopy. The synthesis of the molecules has been followed by pulse-chase immunoprecipitation. Meso1 is first expressed in trans Golgi-like saccules, is concentrated in peripheral low electron-dense vesicles, and is found throughout the plasma membrane of the mesenchymal cells and their filopodial extensions. Newly translated Meso1 can first be immunoprecipitated upon differentiation of the mesoderm cell lineage, and pulse-chase studies suggest that the determinant is the result of a post-translational modification. [35S]Methionine pulses early in development followed by a chase to the mesenchyme blastula or prism stage show that at least a portion of the molecule is translated well in advance of the mesenchyme blastula stage. Endo1, in contrast, does not appear to be translated until the onset of gastrulation, just preceding the post-translational expression of the Endo1 determinant. Endo1 is localized to the apical and basolateral cell surfaces of the midgut and hindgut. No label is detected in foregut cells, demonstrating a heterogeneity of cell populations within the endoderm cell lineage corresponding to a difference in morphology. In addition, Endo1 is shown to be the result of new transcription by the embryonic genome. Even though the function of neither molecule is known, together they show the spatial and temporal precision of differentiation that accompanies the formation of germ layers.