There are several different technical approaches to the isolation of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) with long-term repopulating ability, but these have problems in terms of yield, complexity, or cell viability. Simpler strategies for HSC isolation are needed. We have enriched primitive hematopoietic progenitors from murine bone marrow of mice from different genetic backgrounds by lineage depletion followed by selection of cells with high aldehyde dehydrogenase activity using the Aldefluor reagent (BD Biosciences, Oxford, U.K.). Lin- ALDH(bright) cells comprised 26.8 +/- 1.0% of the total Lin- population of C57BL6 mice, and 23.5 +/- 1.0% of the Lin- population of BALB/c mice expressed certain cell-surface markers typical of primitive hematopoietic progenitors. In vitro hematopoietic progenitor function was substantially higher in the Lin- ALDH(bright) population compared with the Lin- ALDH(low) cells. These cells have higher telomerase activity and the lowest percentage of cells in S phase. These data strongly suggest that progenitor enrichment from Lin- cells on the basis of ALDH is a valid method whose simplicity of application makes it advantageous over conventional separations.