During differentiation of Naegleria from vegetative amoebae to temporary flagellates, the microtubular cytoskeleton, including two basal bodies and flagella, is assembled de novo. Centrin is an integral component of these basal bodies [Levy et al., 1996, Cell Motil. Cytoskeleton 33: 298-323]. In many organisms, centrin appears to be a constitutive protein, but in Naegleria centrin gene expression occurs only during differentiation. Centrin mRNA, which has not been detected in amoebae, appears and disappears earlier in differentiation than a coordinately regulated set of differentiation-specific mRNAs encoding flagellar tubulin and calmodulin. Centrin antigen accumulates during differentiation, and then decreases in abundance as the flagellates mature and revert to amoebae. No localization of centrin has been detected in amoebae. During differentiation, centrin becomes localized to the basal bodies as soon as these structures are detected with anti-tubulin antibodies, first as a single dot and finally as two basal bodies. During reversion of flagellates to amoebae, centrin remains localized to the basal bodies for as long as they are present. When assembly of tubulin-containing structures during differentiation is prevented using oryzalin, centrin localization is prevented as well, yet inhibition of assembly does not affect accumulation of centrin antigen. Apparently in Naegleria, the role of centrin is primarily for a differentiation- or flagellate-specific function. The temporary presence of centrin is concurrent with the presence of centriolar basal bodies, which supports the conjecture that in Naegleria centrin may be needed only when these organelles are present.