On staining with a monoclonal antibody raised against microtubule-associated protein-1 (MAP-1), dot-like structures were seen in the nuclei of interphase cells, but not in those of non-cycling G0-arrested cells. Dots were also not seen in the nuclei of non-cycling senescent human cells (IMR-90). A SV40-DNA-transformed subline of IMR-90 with a limited growth potential showed progressive decrease of cells with nuclei containing dots in the final stage of their lifespan. The dots appeared in G0-arrested IMR-90 cells when these cells were incubated in medium of high osmotic pressure for 3 min. In contrast, no dots appeared in senescent cells or X-ray-irradiated young cells when they were incubated in medium of high osmotic pressure. Thus irreversibly non-cycling cells could be distinguished from G0-phase cells on the level of whole cultures. The results suggest that senescent cells lose their division potential by entering an irreversible cell-cycle stage differing from G0.