Abstract All or nearly all intragemmal (elongated) cells of rat taste buds were immunopositive for keratins 7, 8, and 19. In contrast, keratin 18 was detected in 19±5 cells per taste bud (mean±sd), or about 25% of the intragemmal cells. During taste bud development keratins 7, 8, and 19 were evident initially in polygonal cells and later in elongated taste cells. Keratin 8 appeared in vallate taste cells at P0 (postnatal day 0), followed by keratins 7 and 19 at P1, and keratin 18 at P2–P3. Keratin 18 was always limited to elongated cells. The assemblage of elongated taste cells comprising a taste bud began with a single elongated cell, rather than with the synchronous elongation of a cluster of cells. Developmental errors were observed at P2–P3, e.g., some vallate taste cells had a misoriented axis. In order to study the pace of keratin differentiation during cell turnover we injected bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) into adult rats to monitor taste cell age. Keratin-19-positive intragemmal cells differentiated within 1 day. In contrast, keratin 18 was first detected in cells aged 3 days. Hence, both in taste cell development and replacement, keratin 18 was restricted to the older cells; it was the last taste cell keratin to become expressed during differentiation.