Recently generated anti-Xenopus T cell monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to the 120 kDa XTLA-1 determinant and against the putative CD5 and CD8 homologues, together with anti-IgM and anti-MHC class II mAbs, are used in dual colour flow cytometric experiments to characterize cell surface antigenic expression on lymphocytes in thymus and spleen of Xenopus laevis during larval and early adult life and also in metamorphosis-inhibited animals. Histological confirmation of T cell emergence early in larval ontogeny is supplied by cryostat sections stained for CD8. Five-day thymectomy, i.e. prior to T-lineage cell differentiation in the thymus, abolishes T cell marker expression in the spleen for up to 1 year. Moreover, late larval (20 days) or early adult (3 months) thymectomy (i.e. removal after peripheralization of T cells has occurred) also leads to severe depletion of mAb-defined T cells in the spleen.