The restoration of the polyamine content in polyamine-deficient rat hepatoma tissue-culture (HTC) cells, after short duration of incubation in the presence of DL-alpha-difluoromethylornithine (F2MeOrn) or of (2R,5R)-6-heptyne-2,5-diamine [(2R,5R)MAP], two potent irreversible inhibitors of L-ornithine decarboxylase, has been studied in relation to cell proliferation. Both L-ornithine decarboxylase inhibitors deplete the cells of their putrescine and spermidine contents within one day after their addition to the culture medium. Thereafter, intracellular putrescine and spermidine concentrations are restored to near control values within one day when (2R,5R)MAP is removed from the medium, but remain at low levels at least for one day or longer after removal of F2MeOrn. In both conditions, spermine concentration stays at normal or above normal values and cell growth rates are unaffected. Thus, the total intracellular spermine content per culture parallels, in fact, the increase in cell number. The continuous presence of the drugs maintains the depletion of putrescine and spermidine and decreases the total intracellular spermine content of the culture to the same order of magnitude as it reduces the increase in cell numbers. These findings suggest that the antiproliferative effects of these L-ornithine decarboxylase inhibitors in HTC cells is primarily associated with the limitation of spermine biosynthesis rather than to the almost complete reduction of the putrescine and spermidine pools.