The immunohistochemical reactivity of monoclonal antibodies raised against rat and pig gastric mucins (HIK1083, PGM36, and PGM37) was investigated in normal gastrointestinal tracts obtained from fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals (including humans). These monoclonal antibodies exhibited highly selective reactivity with class III mucins, as identified by paradoxical concanavalin A stain, in the gastrointestinal tract of vertebrates. All three monoclonal antibodies reacted with the mucous neck cells and pyloric gland cells of amphibians, reptiles and mammals, the cardiac glands of reptiles and mammals, and Brunner's glands of mammls. The deep crypt secretory cells of the rat colon and certain goblet-type cells deep in crypts in the pig colon differed from the above pattern only in that they did not show immunoreactivity with monoclonal antibody PGM36. These data suggest that the development of class III mucin is a fundamental evolutionary characteristic of vertebrate gastric mucins. These monoclonal antibodies should prove useful for the investigation of cell differentiation among gastrointestinal mucous cells and for the biochemical analysis of gastrointestinal mucins in different species.