ABSTRACT Development of the mammalian secondary palate involves the growth, elevation, medial elongation and midline fusion of palatal shelves. Recent morphological and molecular studies on palatogenesis suggest that the developing palate is not a homogeneous organ but each part may behave differently during organogenesis. Especially, some key molecules involved in palate development have been shown to exhibit heterogeneous patterns of expression in the palatal tissue. Therefore it seems necessary to recognize the regional heterogeneity of the developing palate along the dorsoventral and anteroposterior axes when analyzing the mechanisms of normal and abnormal morphogenesis. Based on recent studies, we discuss the issue of the regional heterogeneity in the fetal palate and propose a principle that divides the fetal palate into several regions from the morphological and molecular standpoint.