Epidermal differentiation in primary roots of Zea mays was divided into six cell types based on cellular shape and cytoplasmic appearance. These six cell types are: 1) apical protoderm, located at the tip of the root pole and characterized by periclinally flattened cells; 2) cuboidal protoderm, located approximately 230 microns from the root pole and characterized by cuboidal cells; 3) tabular epidermis, located approximately 450 microns from the root pole and characterized by anticlinally flattened cells; 4) cuboidal epidermis, located approximately 900 microns from the root pole and characterized by cuboidal cells having numerous small vacuoles; 5) vacuolate cuboidal epidermis, located approximately 1,500 microns from the root pole and characterized by cuboidal cells containing several large vacuoles; and 6) columnar epidermis, located approximately 2,200 microns from the root pole (i.e., at the beginning of the zone of elongation) and characterized by elongated cells. We also used stereology to quantify the cellular changes associated with epidermal differentiation. The quiescent center and the apical protoderm have significantly different ultrastructures. The relative volume of dictyosomes increases dramatically during the early stages of epidermal differentiation. This increase correlates inversely with the amount of coverage provided by the root cap and mucilage.