The present study was conducted to determine both the site at which cuticle materials are produced and the critical period for their production in the oviductal uterus of the Japanese quail, Coturnix japonica. An antiserum was produced against the 32-kDa band in electrophoretic profiles of cuticle materials obtained from eggshells decalcified with EDTA. Immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopic observations revealed that the 32-kDa protein was synthesized in luminal ciliated epithelial cells of the uterus until 21 h after the previous oviposition (the first phase) and then secreted during the 4 h before the next oviposition (the second phase). Scanning electron microscopic observations revealed that 10-µm-wide posts appear on the surface of the luminal epithelia during the first phase, and that they disappear during the second phase. During the second phase, air canals are formed in the eggshell by the retreat of the posts, and a cuticle layer forms on the eggshell. Our results indicate that the cuticle may function as a lubricant that facilitates egg rotation in the uterus.