Regeneration of canine oesophageal mucosa was studied under basal conditions and in the presence of gastro-oesophageal reflux. In normal circumstances mucosal defects in the oesophagus regenerate by squamous epithelium. In the presence of gastro-oesophageal reflux of either acid or a combination of acid and bile, regeneration was frequently by columnar epithelium (Barrett's oesophagus). This columnar regeneration was not seen with bile reflux alone. By the use of squamous barriers to proximal migration of columnar epithelium in the stomach, it was demonstrated that columnar re-epithelialization may occur from cells intrinsic to the oesophagus and is not dependent on proximal migration of cardiac columnar epithelium. The cell of origin of this epithelium may be located in oesophageal gland ducts and is likely to be a multipotential stem cell since the regenerated columnar epithelium may contain goblet and parietal cells not normally found in the oesophagus. This epithelium is morphologically distinct on mucin histochemistry from cardiac columnar epithelium. These findings support the concept that Barrett's epithelium is metaplastic.