Cranial form in subspecies of Papio baboons (Papio hamadryas) varies in relation to size, geography, and sex. However, knowledge about this variation is based mainly on adults, precluding direct assessments of the evolutionary factors that are ultimately responsible for adult shape variation. Consequently, this study tests hypotheses about the development of size and shape differences among subspecies of Papio baboons, anticipating limited evolutionary divergences in the ontogenetic pathways leading to adult endpoints. Geometric morphometric and bivariate allometric analyses are used to explore developmental size and shape variation. Allometric scaling in adult Papio baboons occurs because both sexes and all subspecies follow similar developmental pathways to a variety of adult forms. However, complex allometry contributes to form differences, producing potentially important shape differences that emerge during development. Modest shape differences that are statistically independent of size distinguish chacma baboons (P. h. ursinus) from other forms. A small-headed subspecies, the Kinda baboon (P. h. kindae), also presents a distinctive ontogeny, and may provide insights into the evolution of size change in this species. Variation among subspecies that is statistically independent of size involves the rostrum, zygomatic breadths, and cranial flexion. These features may be related to diet, but the precise biomechanical correlates of baboon form variation remain unclear. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2006. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.