The appearance and relative distribution of immunoreactive gonadotropic and thyrotropic cells of the anterior pituitary of normal rat fetuses were studied by immunocytology with anti-rat luteinizing hormone serum, anti-porcine luteinizing hormone β serum, anti-bovine thyrotropic hormone serum after saturation with bovine luteinizing hormone. The thyrotropic cells appeared at 17 days of gestation. They were preferentially localized in the dorsal part of the anterior lobe. The gonadotropic cells localized in the ventral part of the same lobe, appeared 1 day later. The number of immunoreactive cells of the two populations increased until the end of gestation. In the pituitaries of 21-day-old rat fetuses encephalectomized at 16 days of gestation, the same number of gonadotropic and thyrotropic cells was observed as in control fetuses at the same age. Gonadotropic cells were also observed in rat adenohypophysial primordia explanted at 14 days of gestation and maintained in organ culture for 7 days. Thyrotropic cells were only stained when the primordia were explanted at 15 days of gestation and cultured for 6 days. No immunoreactive gonadotropic or thyrotropic cells were detected when explantation was performed before 14 days of gestation. These results clarify the problem of the role of hypothalamus on the differentiation of these two cell types.