The early stages of myelination were examined in optic nerves of rats aged 12-15 days. The initial association between oligodendroglial processes and bare axons involves no junctional specialization, as the axoglial extracellular space remains unaltered. Following ensheathment by a collar of glial cytoplasm, at least one full rotation of mesaxon was evident before compact myelin formed. Furthermore, myelin was generally evident before a second rotation was completed. In longitudinal sections, an axoglial junction was always observed beginning on the first paranodal loop, continuing through to the last (or outermost) loop. Thus, the formation of myelin and elaboration of a junctional complex in the paranodal region follow a promyelination phase and appear to be synchronous (and possibly related) events. Although the paranodal plasmalemma and axolemma are in close apposition, there is a material in the extracellular space that precipitates phosphotungstic acid, a characteristic that appears to be featured in a number of different types of cell junctions.