The islet cells of the mammalian pancreas are comprised of four different endocrine cell types, each containing a specific hormone. Islet cells also contain two enzymes of the catecholamine biosynthetic pathway : tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC). The cell lineage relationships of these different cell types have not been examined and it is not known whether, during development, they originate from the same or from different precursor populations. In this study we used immunocytochemical procedures to determine whether developing pancreatic cells express markers common to endocrine and exocrine cell types. We found that acinar cell precursors express AADC prior to the appearance of an exocrine marker and that the expression of AADC in acinar cells persists throughout embryogenesis to the first month of postnatal life. At this time, acinar cells do not contain AADC. We also found that exocrine cells containing AADC never express other islet-cell markers. These findings suggest that while acinar and islet cells both arise from precursor cells containing AADC, these progenitor cells do not express a combined endocrine-exocrine phenotype.