Human skin explants obtained from 2- to 5-yr-old patients with harelips were cultured in NCTC 168 medium at 37 degrees C, in a humidified atmosphere containing 5% CO2 in air. After a 2-week incubation period, the newly grown cells were studied with special reference to tight junctions by freeze-fracture electron microscopy. Many completely formed tight junctions were observed between the uppermost living cells of migrating epithelium, and fragmented tight junctions were seen between the lower layer cells. The tight junctions in the uppermost cells developed so well that they formed a belt-like network consisting of two to six rows of strands. This observation may suggest that human keratinocytes have the ability to produce tight junctions perfectly enough to serve as a barrier, although no complete tight junctions were formed in situ.