An amphibian homologue of the human cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene has been isolated from Xenopus laevis by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification. The 4455bp sequence encodes a predicted polypeptide of 1485 amino acids which has an overall homology at the amino acid level of 77% identity and 88% similarity with human CFTR. Comparison of these evolutionarily diverse CFTR sequences has structure-function implications. Investigation of the expression of the Xenopus gene during early stages of development (Stages 1-48), using RNAase protection assays and PCR analysis of total Xenopus RNA, shows CFTR mRNA to be present at the very earliest stages of development, including the oocyte and blastula stages, with increasing amounts during subsequent development. The identification of mRNA for a CFTR homologue in the Xenopus oocyte and early stages of development has implications for its biological role.