It was investigated whether rat hepatocytes maintain their plasma membrane specialization (sinusoidal, lateral and bile canalicular sites) and their intracellular polarity (peribiliary region, rich in lysosomes and poor in mitochondria) after isolation. The morphology of the hepatocytes and the cytochemical localization of marker enzymes for the bile canalicular membrane (alkaline phosphatase, adenosine triphosphatase and 5' nucleotidase), for the lysosomes (acid phosphatase) and for the mitochondria (beta-hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase and succinate dehydrogenase) were studied in situ and directly after isolation using both light and electron microscopy. The morphology of the cells and the cytochemical activity of acid phosphatase, succinate dehydrogenase and beta-hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase showed that in isolated cells, as in situ, the lysosomes were concentrated in bands, devoid of mitochondria. Unlike in situ the reaction product of alkaline phosphatase, adenosine triphosphatase and 5'nucleotidase was evenly distributed along the entire plasma membrane of the isolated cells. Morphologically, no tight or gap junctions or desmosomes could be detected in the isolated cells, while the plasma membrane appeared to be homogeneously covered with uniform microvilli. In conclusion it can be stated that during isolation the hepatocytes loose their distinct plasma membrane specialization, but maintain their peribiliary region rich in lysosomes and poor in mitochondria.