Tooth eruption across the mucosa in humans has been studied rarely, although there are disturbances of eruption that are attributed specifically to failure of the supraosseous eruptive migration. The aim of this study was to analyze the soft tissues covering normally erupting teeth so as to get an insight into the supraosseous phase of tooth eruption and to provide the basis for comparison with cases of eruption disturbances. Six opercula covering normally erupting permanent molars (primary opercula) and six of succedaneous teeth (secondary opercula) were surgically removed from 10 patients aged 7.5-17.5 years. Specimens were examined light and electron microscopically and analyzed morphometrically. All opercula contained strands and islands of odontogenic epithelium, prominent numbers of high endothelial venules, nerves, and mast cells. Nerves comprised normally structured, 1.5-3.5 microm thick myelinated (Adelta) and thinner unmyelinated (C) fibers. In primary opercula, the proportions of blood vessels and nerves were three- and sevenfold higher than the respective values for the secondary opercula. Furthermore, primary opercula contained multinucleated, fibroblast-like giant cells that were not observed in secondary opercula. As all teeth under investigation were erupting normally, neither the presence of the giant cells nor the atypical proportions of blood vessels and nerves appeared to be decisive in the eruption process. These conspicuous tissue components of opercula seem merely to accompany the eruptive tooth movement.