Development of vibrissae was studied in dd/y mouse embryos by scanning electron microscopy. Arrangement of vibrissae and cortical barrels were also studied by light microscopy in adult dd/y, BALB/c(nu/+), nude (BALB/c,nu/nu) and hairless (hr/hr) mice to find genetic or epigenetic variations. Rudiments of vibrissae first appear on Day 12 of pregnancy as longitudinal ridges on the developing muzzle, and each hair rudiment is represented by a dome on the ridges. The dorsal two rows (A and B; Woolsey and Van der Loos, 1970) of mystacial vibrissae are on the lateral nasal prominence, while the ventral three (C, D and E) are on the maxillary prominence. Smaller hairs of mystacial vibrissae appear at the labial part of the maxillary prominence on Day 13. The rudiments of rhinal hairs also appear at this stage on the part of the muzzle derived from the medial nasal prominence. Thus the so-called mystacial vibrissae should be subdivided into three (or 4, including the rhinal) groups on an embryological basis. They are the lateral nasal, the maxillary and the labial.
A supernumerary sinus hair and a corresponding barrel was observed between B and C rows uni- or bilaterally in one third of individuals of BALB/c, nude and hairless mice. It is suggested that supernumerary hairs tend to occur between the groups of hairs as defined above. In nude and hairless mice small barrels representing labial hairs are diminished in number. The number of hair follicles, however, is normal.