1. We have recently shown that the stellate cells, under normal conditions, contain a majority (more than 80 %) of the total store of retinol in liver (Blomhoff et al. 1985).
2. In the present work we have studied the role of the various liver cells in rats of different ages, sex and vitamin A status.
3. In most of these groups of rats, storage of retinol in parenchymal cells was proportional to the liver store of retinol, and less than 10% of total retinol in the liver could be recovered in the parenchymal cells. The only exception was parenchymal cells isolated from vitamin A-deficient rats. In rats containing 5 nmol retinol/g liver, about 16% of total retinol could be recovered in parenchymal cells, while in rats with only 1 nmol retinol/g liver, about 40% of total retinol could be recovered in parenchymal cells.
4. These results indicate that parenchymal cells played a minor role in liver storage of retinol, and that stellate cells stored more than 90% of liver retinol in most instances. Only in rats with a low retinol status did the percentage of retinol in parenchymal cells increase.