Rat gestation sites were obtained on days 10 through 16 of normal pregnancy. Light and electron microscopic examination of day-10 sites revealed a consistent complex pattern of stromal cell morphologies. Six distinct regions were identified: an antimesometrial region of epithelioid decidual cells that form the gestation chamber containing the embryo and extraembryonic membranes; an abembryonic antimesometrial decidual region, the decidual crypt, where the cells are separated by large extracellular spaces; a mesometrial region with granule-containing cells and mesometrial decidual cells; a region of spiny cells that are lateral to the antimesometrial decidual cells and continuous with the mesometrial decidual cells; and a region of undifferentiated stromal cells adjacent to the myometrium. Between days 12 and 16, the antimesometrial decidua becomes thinner and is eventually sloughed into the newly formed uterine lumen. The role of the antimesometrial decidual cells is discussed with reference to trophoblast invasiveness, protein synthesis, and especially remodeling of the gestation chamber. Differences between decidua and deciduoma are considered.