Cell cycle parameters were estimated using the cumulative 3H-thymidine S-phase labeling and percentage of labeled mitoses methods in the embryonic day 14 and 15 germinal zone of the rat cerebral cortex. The shortest cell cycle time was seen in the dorsal neocortex and the longest in the lateral neocortex and fimbria (the latter also had a low growth fraction). No differences were observed in cell cycle times between the cells in the ventricular and subventricular zone in the same neocortical region. The results suggest gradients of lengthening cell cycle times extending ventrolaterally and ventromedially from the dorsomedial neocortex. Although a majority of proliferating cells in individual cortical regions seem to belong to one population in terms of cell kinetics, several pieces of evidence suggest some heterogeneity: the asymmetric shapes of the percentages of labeled mitoses curves, the small population of noncycling neuroepithelial cells in the neocortex and mesocortex, and small population of cells that become pyknotic. Groups of DNA-synthesizing nuclei that were ectopically located in the inner half of the ventricular zone also indicate the existence of different subpopulations of neuroepithelial cells. In addition, after a pulse injection of 3H-thymidine the germinal zone is characterized by alternating clusters of heavily and lightly labeled cell nuclei that may reflect the simultaneous passage of a cluster of cells through the same portion of S-phase. We suggest that partial cell cycle synchrony within groups of ventricular cells may explain the presence of these iterative cell kinetic patterns in the developing cortex.