The temporo-spatial expression of fibrillin and elastin in skin regenerating from autologous keratinocyte grafts was studied in three burned children. Skin biopsies taken between 5 days and 17 months after grafting were investigated by conventional immunofluorescence, confocal laser scanning, and electron microscopy. Fibrillin, the major component of 10-12nm microfibrils, appeared 5 days after grafting in a band-like fashion similar to collagen VII at the prospective basement membrane, and the formed the characteristic microfibrillar candelabra at the dermo-epidermal junction by fusion of several fine microfibrils to communicating microfibrils projecting downward into the reticular layer of the neodermis. Four to five months after grafting, several communicating microfibrils were connected to a web of horizontally undulating microfibrils of the neodermis which had developed independently. Elastin was first identified in the deeper neodermis 1 month after grafting as granular aggregates and 4 months after grafting on fibrillar structures and surrounding capillaries of the upper neodermis. Association of elastin with microfibrils in the papillary dermis was not detectable before month 17. Our findings suggest that the cutaneous microfibrillar apparatus develops simultaneously at both the dermo-epidermal junction and the reticular dermis and is a prerequisite for elastic fiber formation. In addition, it might be a driving force for the formation of the papilla-rete ridge pattern.