Pre- and peri-implantation embryos of the dasyurid marsupial Sminthopsis crassicaudata were examined for morphological differentiation of the trophectoderm. The cells of unilaminar blastocysts were all squamous and stained intensely with toluidine blue. In bilaminar blastocysts and embryos at the early embryonic-disc stage, the trophectoderm was similar in appearance to, but stained more lightly than, the underlying endoderm. Trophoblast differentiation did not appear to occur until the mesoderm had begun to migrate between the trophoblast and endoderm beyond the embryonic disc. At this stage, trophoblasts had three distinct morphologies: (1) vacuolated, tall and columnar cells in the trilaminar region; (2) large cuboidal cells in the adjacent bilaminar region; and (3) squamous cells in the abembryonic pole of the bilaminar region. These variations in cell structure correlate with differences in subsequent functional activity in these three regions of the yolk sac placenta.