The rat basophilic leukemia cell line (RBL-1) showed an inverse relationship between growth rate and expression of receptor activity for IgE. After prolonged exponential growth, the number of receptors per cell stabilized at 4-6 times 10-5. Cells in stationary cultures, which are arrested in the G1 phase of the cell cycle, continued to accumulate up to 0.9-1.7 times 10-6 receptors/cell with no increase in volume. Upon resuspension in fresh medium at low density, these cells were shown to lose up to 70% of the receptor activity within 4 h. Assessment of cultures synchronized by double thymidine block and cells fractionated by centrifugation of a Ficoll gradient indicated that the RBL-1 cells acquire receptors in the G1 phase of the cell cycle. No accumulation of active receptors occurred during the S and G2 phases, though the average cell volume increased. Cell division resulted in a drop in number of receptors per cell while the number of cell-bound receptors in the culture remained unchanged. This indicates that during mitosis receptors were simply distributed to daughter cells.