Abstract The ratios of tropoelastin b to a were measured in chick aorta and lung during embryogenesis. The rates of tropoelastin a and b synthesis were determined in short-term organ culture. The results demonstrated that in lung tissue the ratio of the two tropoelastins remained essentially constant. Each of the tropoelastins comprised 50% of the total elastin synthesis. In the aortic tissue, tropoelastin b represented 70% of the total elastin in the 11- to 13-day embryos and increased to 91% by Day 16. These observations seen in the organ culture system were paralleled in measurements of functional mRNAs coding for the two proteins. Measurements of functional tropoelastin mRNAs from both lung and aortic tissues were performed in a mRNA-dependent rabbit reticulocyte lysate system. Although the changes in the abundance of the tropoelastin mRNAs revealed the same trend as that seen in the organ culture data, the magnitude of the tropoelastin b to a ratio in the aortic organ culture was twice that determined in the cell-free translation of aortic mRNAs. The data obtained from both cell-free translations and organ culture experiments demonstrate that there is a differential expression of elastin genes during aorta development which is significantly different from that found in developing lung.