Although changes in electrophysiologically measurable membrane properties of chick embryo cardiac plasma membrane have been repeatedly documented during embryonic development, ultrastructural techniques were heretofore too insensitive to detect developmental changes in internal structure of this membrane. We report here significant structural changes detected by applying the quantitative analysis of Kordylewski, Karrison, and Page (Amer. J. Physiol. 245, H992-H997, 1983 and 248, H297-H304, 1985) to stereo imaged electron microscopic negatives of glutaraldehyde-fixed chick embryo hearts, freeze fractured and photographed with a goniometer stage. Between Hamburger-Hamilton stages 12+ (about 48 hr incubation) and 24 (about 96 hr incubation), plasmalemmal P-face particle density of ventricular myocytes increased from 2228 +/- 139 to 3063 +/- 109 (P less than 0.01); thereafter, measurements at stages 30, 37, 40, and 45 (7, 11, 15, and 19 days incubation) showed a slower significant linear increase which gave a least-squares line with a slope of 41 +/- 13 particles/day (P less than 0.01). Just before hatching, (stage 45) the value of 3762 +/- 234 was similar to, though slightly smaller than, the values of 4122 +/- 153 (8 days after hatching) and 4281 +/- 218 (adult chicken). These results indicate striking stage-dependent changes in the population of integral membrane proteins (channels, carriers, receptors, etc.), especially marked during early embryogenesis.