Histochemical and immunohistochemical procedures have been used to examine the localization of three of the four hexokinase isoenzymes present in the liver of fed female Wistar rats. Distinctive distribution patterns were found for hexokinase type I and glucokinase but hexokinase type II was not detectable. Hexokinase type I was identified in sinusoidal cells and in bile duct epithelia, nerves and arteries in the portal triad. Glucokinase, the major isoenzyme, was confined to parenchymal cells where it was present in much higher amounts in perivenous compared with periportal hepatocytes. Staining within these two zones was not homogeneous and each had a mosaic appearance caused by the presence of a few hepatocytes containing little or no glucokinase amongst the majority of darkly stained cells in perivenous areas and a few darkly stained cells amongst the majority of unstained cells in periportal areas. Hence, hepatocytes in situ are a strikingly heterogeneous population of cells. Their metabolic status cannot be controlled simply by the differential supply of oxygen, substrates and hormones to different regions of the liver acini as proposed in the metabolic zonation model. Phenotypic differences may exist between cells within a given metabolic zone which influence their ability to respond to different environmental conditions.