Early development in Xenopus is characterized by dramatic changes in the organization of the microtubule cytoskeleton. We have used whole-mount immunocytochemistry to follow the expression of the acetylated form of alpha-tubulin during early Xenopus development. In the egg and early embryo, the monoclonal anti-acetylated tubulin antibody 6-11B-1 stained meiotic and mitotic spindles, midbody microtubules, and what appears to be the central region of the sperm aster; the antibody did not stain the sperm aster itself or the cortical microtubule system associated with the rotation of the fertilized egg. Following gastrulation, acetylated tubulin disappeared from all but mitotic midbody microtubules. During the course of neurulation high levels of acetylated tubulin reappeared in the precursors of the ciliated epidermal cells (stage 15), transiently in neural folds (stage 16/17), in neuronal processes (stage 18/19), and in somas (stage 21). The changing pattern of anti-acetylated tubulin staining during Xenopus development raises intriguing questions as to the physiological significance of tubulin acetylation.