A method for culturing non- or slowly growing, differentiated fetal rat liver cells is described. It involves the use of collagenase as a digesting agent and of a selective medium deficient in arginine which suppresses the growth of nonparenchymal liver cells. Evidence is presented that surviving cells (a) retain liver-specific urea cycle functions measured by their capacity to transform ornithine into arginine, (b) synthesize DNA in glucose-deficient medium, and (c) synthesize and secrete albumin. This primary cell culture responds to partially hepatectomized rat serum and may be an appropriate assay system for the study of mechanisms which regulate liver regeneration.

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