Previous work has shown that adult mouse hepatocytes can divide at least 18 times in vivo. To test whether this represents the upper limit of their regenerative capacity, we performed serial transplantation of hepatocytes in the fumarylacetoacetate hydrolase deficiency murine model of liver repopulation. Hepatocytes from adult donors were serially transplanted in limiting numbers six times and resulted in complete repopulation during each cycle. This corresponds to a minimal number of 69 cell doublings or a 7.3 x 10(20)-fold expansion. No evidence for abnormal liver function or altered hepatic architecture was found in repopulated animals. We conclude that a fraction of adult mouse hepatocytes have growth potential similar to that of hematopoietic stem cells.