The biogenesis of p51, the target of nephritogenic monoclonal antibody 5-1-6, was studied in the developing glomerulus by immunolocalization and metabolic labeling. The localization of p51 was compared with that of ZO-1, a component of the cytoplasmic face of the epithelial slit diaphragm, and with that of podocalyxin, and apical marker of the podocyte. p51 first became faintly, but clearly, detectable on the basal and lateral sides of the developing podocytes at the S-shaped body stage. Staining intensity increased with further maturation and was restricted to the visceral epithelial cells. On immunoelectron microscopy, the antigen was seen along the basal and lateral surfaces below occluding junction at the early capillary loop stage and later, with the interdigitation of foot processes, became concentrated in the slit pores. At no stage was p51 seen on the apical surface. p51 and ZO-1 were closely localized in the mature glomerulus but arrived at their final positions from opposite directions. p51 was on basal and podocalyxin was on apical sides of the glomerular epithelium from the S-shaped body stage onwards. Metabolic labeling studies showed that p51 is actively synthesized during initial glomerular development and that the rate of synthesis declines substantially with maturation. We conclude that p51 is primarily synthesized during the initial glomerular development, becomes concentrated in the slit pores of mature podocytes, and serves as a basal differentiation marker for podocytes.