Formation of the oral vestibule is ignored in most studies on tooth development, although dental and vestibular lamina are closely related to each other. Knowledge about morphogenetic processes shaping the oral vestibule is missing almost completely. The aim of this study was to assess the developmental relationship between dental and vestibular lamina as well as formation of the oral vestibule in the upper jaw of the field vole (Microtus agrestis), a small rodent representing an attractive model species for comparative dental studies. Three-dimensional reconstruction revealed that the upper vestibular lamina of the vole joins the antemolar part of the diastemal dental lamina, similar to mouse. Later, this lamina complex regresses and the vestibular lamina is separated from the molar epithelium. Participation of the vestibular lamina in dental lamina formation, as hypothesized for mouse, therefore remains unclear. Except for increased apoptosis in the regressing diastemal dental lamina, spatial segregation of mitoses or apoptoses could be detected neither in the jaw arch epithelium nor in the adjacent mesenchyme. Therefore, in contrast to tooth primordia, apoptosis and mitosis seem to play a minor role in shaping of the upper oral vestibule. The buccal vestibule develops secondarily, probably in consequence of general growth of the head and localized differentiation of cells. J. Morphol. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.