1. DNA contents of the individual parenchymal nuclei of rat livers during postnatal growth were estimated by microspectrophotometric apparatus, and different ploidy classes of nuclei were classified by their DNA contents. With the same material the total number of parenchymal nuclei in the liver was counted microscopically.
2. If the DNA content of nuclei encountered most frequently in several tissues represents the diploid class, the ploidy classes of the rat liver cell nuclei correspond to di-, tri-, tetra-, and octoploid, with the di- and tetraploid ones predominating considerably.
3. In suckling rats (below 25 gm. of body weight) the liver parenchyma is composed almost exclusively of cells with diploid nuclei, whereas in young rats (above 80 gm.), of tetraploid nuclei. In the growth stage between 25 and 80 gm., there is a remarkable replacement of the diploid nuclei by the tetraploid ones. However, in the liver of adult rats weighing more than 150 gm., any increase or decrease in the frequency of diploid and tetraploid nuclei is hardly observable. In such rats, the nuclear population of the liver parenchyma seems to reach a cell-ecological equilibrium which is considered to be a stable one.
4. It is shown that such nuclear populations and the total number of nuclei in a liver are controlled by the growth state, and not by the age.
5. The decrease in the total number of diploid nuclei and the increase in tetraploid nuclei in the growing livers of rats weighing from 40 up to 130 gm. can both be explained by the hypothesis that the tetraploid nuclei originate from the interphase diploid nuclei without involving mitosis. This hypothesis implies that mitosis is confined to the reproduction of diploid cells alone.
6. It is suggested that, in general, the synthesis of DNA does not necessarily result in the formation of visible mitotic chromosomes.
7. Mitotic time and generation time of diploid nuclei and the percentage of the tetraploidization from diploid nuclei are calculated and discussed.