Colony-forming human epidermal cells are heterogeneous in their capacity for sustained growth. Once a clone has been derived from a single cell, its growth potential can be estimated from the colony types resulting from a single plating, and the clone can be assigned to one of three classes. The holoclone has the greatest reproductive capacity: under standard conditions, fewer than 5% of the colonies formed by the cells of a holoclone abort and terminally differentiate. The paraclone contains exclusively cells with a short replicative lifespan (not more than 15 cell generations), after which they uniformly abort and terminally differentiate. The third type of clone, the meroclone, contains a mixture of cells of different growth potential and is a transitional stage between the holoclone and the paraclone. The incidence of the different clonal types is affected by aging, since cells originating from the epidermis of older donors give rise to a lower proportion of holoclones and a higher proportion of paraclones.