The transformation period in Slovak settlement structures is characterized by a strong regional differentiation with an impact on the conditions and possibilities for development of rural settlements. The article examines the main aspects of spatial development in rural settlements with their urban structures, taking into account their nature as well as available economic, social and geographic potential. The rural settlements are analyzed under consideration of implementing their internal structures and external spatial expansion into the country. The subjects of investigation are large rural settlements located in the suburbs of towns in the residential development axes as well as villages in marginal regions. The most important indicators of the level of development, which were observed in the model settlements, have been the changes in demographic and physical structures. The indicator for potential development areas was the intensity of land-use, given by the density of the urban zones. Many rural settlements have significant environmental, cultural and natural potential, which has to be directed and regulated by legislation.