cDNA/RNA hybridization experiments of polysomal and nuclear poly(A)-rich RNA from early tadpole stages of Xenopus laevis revealed that part of the nuclear poly(A)-rich RNA sequences are not present within the polysomal polyadenylated RNA. For a more detailed analysis of these sequences we have cloned double-stranded cDNA derived from tadpole nuclear poly(A)-rich RNA in the PstI cleavage site of pBR 322. By colony screening with 32P-labelled cDNA from polysomal and nuclear poly(A)-rich RNA of the tadpole stage we could identify and isolate some of the cloned sequences, which are present only within the nuclear RNA. However, hybridization with cDNA from polysomal poly(A)-rich RNA of the gastrula stage indicated that at least one of those sequences which are confined to the nucleus at tadpole stage may serve as mRNA at gastrula stage. We present evidence that nuclear and polysomal poly(A)-rich RNA molecules containing the same nucleotide sequence differ in size and that size reduction at the level of processing precedes and may enable cytoplasmic export. We conclude that, besides stage-specific regulation of transcription, post-transcriptional control mechanisms are also involved in gene expression during embryonic development.