Vitamin A-storing cells have been shown to be distributed among various organs and tissues, including the lungs. In order to investigate this unique type of cell, the in vitro isolation has been carried out from rat lungs. Lungs were perfused with EGTA and collagenase solution in situ, and were digested with trypsin-collagenase solution at 60-min intervals for 2 h. Then, the cell suspensions obtained were incubated at 37 degrees C in F-10 medium supplemented with 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS) for 72 h. Non-adherent cells were then removed by vigorous washing with medium, and the resultant cell monolayer was harvested with trypsin to remove the contaminating macrophages. These cell fractions were shown to contain more than 96% of vitamin A-storing cells, judged by electron and fluorescence microscopic examinations. The cells grown in vitro retained well the overall morphology characteristic of the vitamin A-storing cells found in lung tissues. The isolated cells grew well in vitro and the growth was inhibited by D-valine or cis-hydroxyproline. The progeny of the cells still contained vitamin A lipid droplets after several transfer generations. Characteristic networks of fibronectin were also demonstrated around the cells. These results have shown that vitamin A-storing cells in the lung was successfully isolated from rat lungs and the cells possessed fibroblast-like characters storing vitamin A in small lipid droplets.