When adult rat hepatocytes were co-cultured with another liver epithelial cell type in a medium supplemented or not with fetal calf serum (FCS), it was found that 1. They survived for more than 2 months 2. Albumin secretion levels remained high over the whole culture period 3. Decreased secretion might be reversed 4. This protein secretion activity appeared to be dependent upon both the presence of cell-cell contacts and the production of an extracellular material. The results demonstrate for the first time long-term stabilization and reversibility of a specific function (albumin secretion) at high levels by adult hepatocytes cultured in serum-free medium and suggest that both the presence of other liver cell type(s) and the production of an extracellular matrix are needed for the maintenance of specific functions in cultured hepatocytes.