Pancreatic ducts of young posthatching Rana temporaria tadpoles are the main component of the developing pancreas. At this stage (free-swimming tadpoles with internal gills), duct cells display a high degree of development of basal and lateral outfoldings of the cell membrane with extensive interdigitation, and numerous mitochondria are present throughout the cytoplasm. Wide intercellular spaces also exist, sometimes forming canaliculi-like structures. Since these traits are characteristic of cells engaged in osmotic regulation, we suggest the possibility that this temporary duct system participates in such control. Duct cells in tadpoles with well-developed hindlegs have diminished interdigitation, and mitochondria are localized apically. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.