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Abstract. We analysed epithelial-mesenchymal interactions that occur during the early stages of the formation of mouse molar roots using light and electron microscopy. Morphological changes observed in the cells of Hertwig's epithelial sheath, the pulp and the follicular mesenchyme are described. The Hertwig's epithelial cells lose their cuboidal form and become flattened, apparently intermixing with the cells of the follicular mesenchyme. At the light- and electron-microscope levels, immunoperoxidase techniques were used to localize fibronectin, laminin and type-IV collagen. These appear to be closely associated with cell differentiation and matrix deposition in developing tooth roots. In addition, at the ultrastructural level, intracellular immunoreactivity was detected. The rough endoplasmic reticulum and nuclear envelope of some cells of the periodontal ligament facing the acellular cementum exhibited specific reactivity with laminin and type-IV collagen. Moreover, these periodontal ligament cells express keratin, but not vimentin, filaments. Our results demonstrate that Hertwig's epithelial cells maintain their capacity to synthesize laminin and type-IV collagen, as well as to express keratin filaments, despite basement membrane fragmentation and the disorganization of Hertwig's epithelial sheath. Thus, some Hertwig's epithelial cells remain in the periodontal ligament intermixed with follicular mesenchyme cells.