The intestinal mucosa represents an interesting model to study the cellular and molecular basis of epithelial–mesenchymal cross–talk participating in the development and maintenance of the digestive function. This cross–talk involves extracellular matrix molecules, cell–cell and cell–matrix adhesion molecules as well as paracrine factors and their receptors. The cellular and molecular unit is additionally regulated by hormonal, immune and neural inputs. Such integrated cell interactions are involved in pattern formation, in proximodistal regionalization, in maintenance of a gradient of epithelial proliferation and differentiation, and in epithelial cell migration. We focus predominantly on two aspects of these integrated interactions in this paper: (i) the role of basement membrane molecules, namely laminins, in the developmental and spatial epithelial behaviour; and (ii) the importance of the mesenchymal cell compartment in these processes.