We have isolated three cDNA clones that are preferentially expressed in the cement gland of early Xenopus laevis embryos. These clones were used to study processes involved in the induction of this secretory organ. Results obtained show that the induction of this gland coincides with the process of neural induction. Genes specific for the cement gland are expressed very early in the anterior neural plate of stage-12 embryos. This suggests that the anteroposterior polarity of the neural plate is already established during gastrulation. At later stages of development, two of the three genes have secondary sites of expression. The expression of these genes can be induced in isolated animal caps by incubation in 10 mM-NH4Cl, a treatment that is known to induce cement glands.