The basic body plan of a plant is established early in embryogenesis when cells differentiate, giving rise to the apical and basal regions of the embryo. Using chlorophyll fluorescence as a marker for chloroplasts, we have detected specific patterns of chloroplast-containing cells at specific stages of embryogenesis. Non-randomly distributed chloroplast-containing cells are seen as early as the globular stage of embryogenesis in Arabidopsis. In the heart stage of embryogenesis, chloroplast containing cells are detected in epidermal cells as well as a central region of the heart stage embryo, forming a triangular septum of chloroplast-containing cells that divides the embryo into three equal sectors. Torpedo stage embryos have chloroplast-containing epidermal cells and a central band of chloroplast-containing cells in the cortex layer, just below the shoot apical meristem. In the walking-stick stage of embryogenesis, chloroplasts are present in the epidermal, cortex and endodermal cells. The chloroplasts appear reduced or absent from the provascular and columella cells of walking-stick stage embryos. These results suggest that there is a tight regulation of plastid differentiation during embryogenesis that generates specific patterns of chloroplast-containing cells in specific cell layers at specific stages of embryogenesis.