The caridean shrimp Palaemonetes argentinus Nobili is well suited for studying developmental aspects of the crustacean nervous system due to its rapid embryonic development and short reproductive cycle. In the present paper, we demonstrate the pattern of central axonal pathways in embryos of this species by immunohistochemical detection of acetylated a-tubulin. Development of the neuropil was elucidated by using an antibody to a Drosophila synapsin. In the ventral nerve cord, the segmental axonal scaffold consists of the paired lateral connectives, a median connective, and the anterior and posterior commissures. Three nerve roots were found to branch off each ganglion anlage, i.e. the main segmental nerve root, a smaller posterior nerve and the intersegmental nerve. However, this pattern is different in the mandibular segment where no intersegmental nerve and only one commissure was encountered. The anterior part of the brain consists of a tritocerebral and a deutocerebral anlage as well as the anlage of the medial protocerebrum. The latter is connected to the eyestalk via the protocerebral tract. The sequence of development of the eyestalk ganglia was demonstrated in specimens which were stained with the anti-synapsin antibody. The medulla terminalis and medulla interna are the first neuropils to appear and are still fused in early stages. Later, the medulla interna splits off the medulla terminalis. The lamina ganglionaris is the last of the eyestalk neuropils to develop. These findings prove that immunocytochemistry against acetylated a-tubulin and synapsin are valuable tools for studying the development of the crustacean nervous system.