The olfactory epithelium of mice after axotomy was investigated to clarify the stem cells of olfactory cells by double immunostaining using antikeratin (MA903) and anti-bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) antibodies and by conventional electron microscopy. When a single dose of BrdU was given to mice 9 days after axotomy, immunostaining for BrdU was found in the globose basal cells which were negative for MA903, but not in the basal cells proper which were positive for MA903. The BrdU-immunoreactive cells increased 3- to 6-fold over the number of these cells in the controls, indicating active cell proliferation. At other postoperative days (4 and 14 days), fewer BrdU-immunoreactive cells were found. Furthermore, three pulses of BrdU resulted in numerous BrdU-immunolabelings in the globose basal cells and a few in the basal cells proper. There was no detectable difference in the number of labeled basal cells proper in operated and unoperated mice. In the electron micrographs 9 days after axotomy, the basal cells proper, flat-shaped in unoperated mice, appeared cylindrical or pyramidal in shape and the globose basal cells often lay between the basal cells proper. In unoperated controls, the globose basal cells were located above the flat-shaped basal cells proper. The results suggest that the stem cells of the olfactory cells are globose basal cells and not basal cells proper, and that the shape of basal cells proper changes in relation to the active proliferation of stem cells.