We have investigated the spatial pattern of epithelial cell cycling in a mutant strain of Hydra magnipapillata (sf-1). This strain has temperature sensitive interstitial stem cells and thus polyps containing only epithelial cells can be obtained by growth at the restrictive temperature. Epithelial animals were pulse labeled with the thymidine analog 5'-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (Brdu) and stained with anti-Brdu antibody to visualize S phase cells. Our results indicate that Brdu-labeled cells are broadly and fairly evenly distributed along the body column. Feeding stimulates a rapid decrease and then an increase in labeled cells in gastric tissue; labeled cells in the head are not affected. Starvation leads to a twofold decrease in labeled cells in the gastric region; the density of labeled cells in head tissue remains similar to that in well-fed animals. During bud formation the number of labeled epithelial cells increases significantly in the evaginating bud. During head regeneration the number of labeled cells declines sharply during the first 12 hr and then increases to a density typical of head tissue by 24-36 hr of regeneration. The results indicate the release of signals by feeding and regeneration which inhibit mitosis. By contrast head tissue and developing buds express signals stimulating mitosis. Thus changes in epithelial cell cycling in hydra are closely correlated with morphogenetic events as well as with feeding stimuli.