The marrow microenvironment is a complex, three-dimensional structure composed of many cell types and abundant extracellular matrix. Much of the data are derived from analysis of the adherent layer of murine and, especially, human long-term marrow cultures. An essential feature of this in vitro counterpart to the marrow microenvironment is the presence of flat angulated cells functionally defined as marrow stromal cells with the following phenotype: type IV collagen(+), laminin(+), vimentin(+), CD10(+), muscle actin(+), Stro-1(+), and negative for CD45, Mac-1, and HLA-DR. Stromal precursors are Stro-1(+) and CD34(+). Regulation of hematopoietic precursors by the microenvironment occurs by elaboration of regulatory molecules such as hematopoietic cytokines, by cell-cell contact via adhesion molecules such as alpha 4 beta 1 integrin, and by interactions with components of the extracellular matrix as in the case of the glycosaminoglycan hyaluronic acid with cell-associated CD44. Although little about the regulation of stromal cell development itself is known, several studies indicate the transplantability of marrow stromal cells under specific conditions. These developments suggest a potential role of stromal cells in cell therapy. Transfected stromal cells may serve as suitable vehicles for gene delivery to correct single gene disorders in which the product of the target gene does not require stringent regulation as, for example, in the correction of Factor VIII and Factor IX deficiency. Further studies are warranted to investigate marrow stromal cell physiology and regulation to better understand hematopoiesis and to explore the possible use of stroma in therapy.