Kidney organ culture was used to study the conversion of embryonic mesenchymal cells into a polarized, differentiated kidney epithelium. We examined the expression of laminin, a basement membrane glycoprotein, during this conversion. The B chains of laminin were constitutively expressed, whereas the appearance of the A chain of laminin was dependent on embryonic induction and coincided with the onset of cell polarization. Antisera against the carboxy-terminal end of laminin inhibited polarization but did not affect the developmental events that precede polarization. Antisera against N-terminal parts of laminin failed to inhibit morphogenesis. Since the fragments at the carboxy-terminal end contain parts of the A chain, we suggest that the appearance of this chain is fundamental for initiation of cell polarity.