Empirical definitions of identity formation, and five variants, were constructed using a technique for studying multiple self-images. The method was then applied to a sample of black and white lower socioeconomic class boys. These boys were tested with this technique and given in-depth interviews twice a year, from the start to the finish of high school. The results of these longitudinal studies disclose that the black and white adolescents have emphatically differentpatterns of identity formation. The blacks are characterized by unchanging configurations of self-images. Both the content of their self-definitions and the interrelations for these self-definitions remain strikingly stable over the years. The whites, on the other hand, display a progressive integration of different self-images and stabilization of the content of these images. The more qualitative interview data corroborate these quantitative findings. The patterns displayed by the blacks are consistent with the definition of "identity foreclosure," a disruption in ego identity development. The whites' patterns, however, are consistent with progressive identity formation. In addition to discussing these results, the paper goes on to consider ways to understand the findings. Sociocultural as well as cognitive aspects of the racial differences in identity development are explored.