Thyroid hormone induces the complete metamorphosis of anuran tadpoles into juvenile frogs. Arguably, anuran metamorphosis is the most dramatic effect of a hormone in any vertebrate. Recent advances in pharmacology and molecular biology have made the study of this remarkable process in the frog Xenopus laevis attractive to developmental biologists and endocrinologists alike. In particular, the availability of a straightforward transgenesis assay and the near completion of the Xenopus tropicalis genome are enabling significant advances to be made in our understanding of the major remaining problems of metamorphosis: the extraordinary tissue specificity of responses, the precise timing of morphological changes, the degree of cell autonomy of hormone responses and developmental competence. We argue that X. laevis metamorphosis presents an exciting opportunity for understanding the role of thyroid hormone in vertebrate development.