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The basement membrane separates the epithelium from the surrounding mesenchyme and plays an essential role in the development of various epithelial–mesenchymal organs. Among these, the submandibular salivary gland (SMG) has been chosen to review the expression patterns and roles of the epithelial basement membrane and its components, in particular the laminins, during SMG morphogenesis. At the outset, a brief description of SMG development is provided with special reference to changes in the epithelial architecture and the epithelial basement membrane. The restricted expression patterns of various laminin isoforms in the developing SMGs are also summarized. Furthermore, an overview is given of several lines of experimental evidence that indicate significant but distinct roles for laminin-1 and laminin-10, their individual domains and their receptor-mediated signaling in SMG morphogenesis.