Current research on angiogenesis and vascular regression is mainly focused on pathological conditions such as tumor growth and diabetic retinopathy, while a suitable physiological model to study the controlling factors in these processes is still lacking. The remodeling pattern of the embryonic vasculature into the adult configuration, such as the branchial arch arterial system developing into the aorta or the early embryonic veins building the caudal vena cava can potentially serve as a model. However, practical applications of the embryonic vascular patterning are impeded by the current controversy over the exact development of the caudal vena cava in mammals. To elucidate these ambiguities, specific developmental stages of vascular development in pig embryos were mapped by means of computer-assisted 3D reconstructions starting from histological serial sections of Bouin's fixed embryos. Special attention was given to venous segments in the lumbar region, as their origin and fate are equivocally described in literature. Here we demonstrate that these venous segments originate from the caudal cardinal veins which are forced to migrate during development into a more dorsal position due to the expansion of the developing metanephroi and the more dorsal relocation of the umbilical arteries. These findings are in contrast with the generally accepted theory that the venous segments in the lumbar region arise from newly formed veins that are located dorsal to the early caudal cardinal system. Microsc. Res. Tech., 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.