The origin of the embryonic common pulmonary vein in terrestrial vertebrates is still uncertain. Most earlier studies in nonhuman embryos describe the vein as entering the sinus venosus. The currently prevailing view, however, based largely on the study of human material, is that the embryonic common pulmonary vein is associated with the left atrium from its inception.

We recently observed the pulmonary vein entering the sinus venous part of the right atrium in several normal dog embryos of a stage comparable to horizon XIV in man (Streeter: Contrib. Embryol. Carnegie Inst. Wash., 31:53, 1945). In slightly older specimens the vein entered the left atrium just to the left of septum primum. This observation, and the fact that some atrial septal and pulmonary venous anomalies in man still await a plausible pathogenetic explanation, stimulated a restudy of the origin of the vein. The alligator was used because we already had prepared a large number of closely graded serially sectioned embryos for other purposes. Wax plate reconstructions clearly showed that the common pulmonary vein entered the left side of the sinus venosus. With the formation of the atrial septum, this part of the sinus venosus is “pinched off” and becomes incorporated into the left atrium, thus transferring the pulmonary venous ostium to that atrium.