We have demonstrated in rat hepatocytes that 3H-histamine binds specifically to novel low (microM) and high (nM) affinity sites, designated "HIC" to denote their intracellular location. Low affinity HIC sites are associated with microsomes, while both low and high affinity HIC sites are associated with the nucleus. A growth-regulatory action of intracellular histamine at HIC, independent of the rise in cytosolic calcium, has been demonstrated in mitogen-stimulated lymphocytes. We now report that the high affinity HIC sites in liver cell nuclei are associated exclusively with chromatin, while only low affinity sites are found in the residual material containing the nuclear matrix. Moreover, hepatocyte nuclei contain histamine (approximately 1 ng/mg protein), unaffected by incubation for up to 18 hours with the histidine decarboxylase inhibitor, alpha-FMH, suggesting a slow rate of turnover typical of a storage pool. A decrease in nuclear histamine parallels a rise in DNA synthesis in the first 24 hours after partial hepatectomy. Our findings support a role for a nuclear pool of pre-formed histamine in the mediation of liver regeneration.