Long-term monolayer cultures of adult rat hepatocytes were tested for their ability to glucuronize phenol red and to maintain initial levels of cell proteins, glucose consumption, and lactic acid production. Lactate dehydrogenase leakage served as an index of culture status because a high value indicates cell death. Three tissue culture (TC) media formulations were the main variables introduced to determine ideal conditions for cell survival in vitro. Investigations of long-term cultures were preceded by studies of hepatocyte attachment to polystyrene surfaces. This attachment was influenced by the amount of substrate deposited and the number of cells seeded, but not by the uniformity of the substrate coating. A statistical analysis of our data revealed that in the absence of fetal bovine serum (FBS), air dried collagen (ADC) and Biomatrix (BMX) were superior to saline precipitated collagen and fibronectin as attachment substrates. In the presence of 10% FBS, all of the substrates performed equally. Chee's Medium (CEM) proved to be the best for preserving cell proteins over a time course of 28 d and Williams' E medium also performed adequately up to 14 d. The glucuronization of phenol red was at 50% of initial values at Day 7 in CEM-ADC hepatocytes in contrast to 30% for cells in Williams' E medium and 5% for cells grown in Waymouth's. At 14 d glucuronization was still present at 40% of original values in CEM-ADC cells but had ceased in the other two media. When BMX was used, none of the TC media supported glucuronization levels comparable to ADC cells.