The notochord of the chick embryo between stages 5 and 23 inclusive has been studied by scanning electron microscopy, supplemented by transmission electron microscopy. Three main phases of development are described, and these have been designated: bilaminar; rod-like, unvacuolated; rod-like and vacuolated. The changes in shape of the organ from bilaminar to rod-like is accompanied by changes in the shape, orientation and position of the cells, an increase in the complexity of the cell contacts, and the laying down of a basal lamina. The change from the unvacuolated to the vacuolated phase is accompanied by increasing complexity within the cytoplasm. Most of the vacuoles are intracellular and appear empty though some contain a granular material. The notochordal sheath appears to be secreted by the notochordal cells and fine fibrillar material has been seen in the intercellular spaces. By stage 23, most of the notochordal cells have become so highly vacuolated that the cytoplasm has become closely packed around the nucleus.