To determine the time required to repopulate mouse lungs with donor alveolar macrophages following total body irradiation (TBI) and bone marrow transplantation (BMT), C57Bl/6 mice were subjected to TBI with 900 cGy, followed by transplantation of bone marrow cells from mice expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) in their somatic cells. The mice were euthanized at either 30 (n=5), 60 (n=5) or 90 (n=5) days following BMT. Thirty days following transplantation, 87.8 +/- 3.9% (mean +/- S.E.M.) circulating leukocytes in recipient mice were derived from the donor, as determined by fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis for GFP. However, only 46.9 +/- 7.4% of the resident alveolar cells expressed GFP, indicating incomplete repopulation. By day 60 post-transplantation, the percentage of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) cells expressing GFP reached 74.5 +/- 2.4%, remaining stable 90 days after transplantation (80.4 +/- 1.9%). We conclude that 60 days after TBI with 900 cGy and bone marrow transplantation, the majority of the lung resident alveolar macrophages is of donor origin. This study provides useful information regarding the time of reconstitution with donor alveolar macrophages in the pulmonary airspaces of recipient mice following marrow transplantation.