The ultrastructure of the surface epithelium and tubular glands of the uterus in the immature ostrich is described. In ostriches with inactive ovaries the uterus is lined by a non-ciliated simple columnar epithelium, with basally located heterochromatic nuclei. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that these non-ciliated cells have a dense microvillous cover. A simple columnar to pseudostratified columnar epithelium, comprised of non-ciliated and ciliated cells, lines the uterus in birds with active ovaries. The ciliated cells possess a wide luminal region, which contains a nucleus and various organelles. An accumulation of secretory granules was observed in the apical regions of the non-ciliated cells, as well as in a few ciliated cells. In addition to non-ciliated and ciliated cells, a cell type with rarefied cytoplasm was also identified. These cells appear to correspond to calcium secreting cells identified in other avian species.
The results of this study indicate that, although uterine differentiation is present in immature ostriches with active ovaries, the production of secretory product appears to occur mainly in non-ciliated epithelial cells.