The monoclonal antibody PC10 raised against the proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) was used to study acinar cell replication in the pancreas of rats under different functional conditions. In Western blots, the antibody recognized a single band of 37 kDa in pancreatic homogenates indicating its specificity in this particular species and organ. Three conditions of growth were chosen for immunohistochemical analysis: pancreatic pre- and postnatal development, pancreatic regeneration after injury, and cholecystokinin-stimulated acinar cell proliferation. The time course of acinar cell replication under each condition was the same as that obtained after tritiated thymidine incorporation with subsequent autoradiography, indicating that the percentage of PCNA-positive cells reflects the pool of cycling cells in the models investigated. However, the absolute number of PCNA-positive cells was two to ten times higher than comparable labeling indices from 3H-thymidine autoradiography. This finding might reflect the half life of PCNA, which exceeds the duration of the S-phase. Thus, PCNA-positive cells not only represent S-phase cells, but also cells that have recently completed the cell cycle.