The development of the main (nVI) and the accessory abducens (nVIa) nuclei was studied with the horseradish peroxidase and cobaltic-lysine labeling techniques in Xenopus laevis tadpoles. In earliest labeling was obtained at stage 39, and neuroblasts of both nuclei formed two separate groups according to their definitive positions in relation to other rhombencephalic structures in this young age of development. Conspicuous morphological differences were observed between the two nuclei: the accessory abducens neuroblasts were twice as big as the abducens neuroblasts and the characteristic nVIa 'knee' was present from this time of the first successful labeling. The two different dendritic arborization patterns, which clearly distinguished the abducens neurons from the accessory abducens neurons, gradually developed in tadpoles. It is suggested that the form and position of abducens and accessory abducens neurons are determined at a prefunctional stage, probably before the beginning of axonal outgrowth, and neurobiotaxis may not play the role attributed previously in the differentiation of these two nuclei.