Mammalian eggs and embryos contain an extensive detergent-resistant cytoskeletal network, including many elements which have been referred to as sheets in hamster eggs. In this study we examined the structure of the sheet-like components by using embedment-free sections and freeze-fracture electron microscopy and found that the sheets are composed of both filamentous and particulate components. In addition, exposure to a high salt extraction medium resulted in the disappearance of the sheets at the ultrastructural level. SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of the cell fractions revealed four stainable proteins solubilized by the high salt extraction with one of the proteins being greatly enriched. Because these cytoskeletal sheets undergo an extensive reorganization coincident with key events during early development they serve as internal markers for the establishment of polarity and subsequent differentiation of the first embryonic epithelium, the trophectoderm.