The pronephros serves as the embryonic kidney of the lower vertebrates. In this report we describe the development of the pronephric system of Xenopus laevis utilizing scanning electron microscopy and novel monoclonal antibodies that specifically recognize different parts of the pronephros. Antibody 3G8 recognizes the tubules and nephrostomes of the pronephroi only and does not react with the duct. Antibody 4A6 stains only the duct and the nephrostomes. These antibodies thus allow the positive identification of these two intermediate mesoderm derivatives. Both reagents detect antigens expressed some time after the pronephric structures first form and probably represent markers of terminal differentiation. When the tubules and duct first form they are separate structures that can easily be distinguished; the connective tubules have a distinctive organization, the collecting (or common) tubule is broader than other tubules, and the narrow pronephric duct has a specific shape and position. In later stages the collecting tubule and the rostral portion of the duct undergo a considerable amount of convolution, and both contribute to the final coiled tubular body of the pronephros. The ability of 3G8 and 4A6 to distinguish these two elements of the nephric system was used to reexplore classical experiments on the interaction between these two structures during development of the pronephric system. The use of whole-mount analysis has allowed us to examine large numbers of embryos from different stages and dissected in a variety of planes. These experiments demonstrate the dynamic nature of the intermediate mesoderm and indicate that although the pronephros may be specified by mid-neurula stages, patterning is not complete until tailbud stages.