The formation of gap junctions was studied in pancreatic exocrine cells of rats and mice during late embryonic and neonatal development by the freeze-fracture replica method. Small gap junctions were present in association with tight junctional strands near the cell apex during embryonic development. Independently of tight junctions, small gap junctions were sometimes seen more basally on day 13 to 15 of gestation. The gap junctions increased in number and were rapidly enlarged by day 18 to 20 of gestation. Large particles 12-13 nm in diameter were frequently associated with the gap junction, which consisted of 10 nm particles. The large particles were either irregularly distributed or arranged in hexagonal patterns. The number of large particles decreased with time, so that they sparsely rimmed the gap junction in postnatal animals. This suggests that large particles are precursors of typical gap junctional particles, and that they participate in rapid growth of the gap junction during late embryonic development. It may be also possible that large particles represent functionally different gap junctions.