The findings reported in this study highlight several important features of the development of hematopoietic stem cells after transplantation into irradiated recipients. First, they demonstrate the existence of a class of primitive multipotential stem cells that can function for a significant portion of the lifetime of a mouse (15 mo). In addition, they clearly show that these primitive stem cells can be infected with recombinant retroviruses and thus would be appropriate targets for gene therapy in somatic tissues. Second, our data indicate that the progeny of some, but not all, of the primitive stem cells have fully expanded into the various hematopoietic lineages by 2 mo after reconstitution. Finally, our analysis of the secondary recipients provides strong evidence suggesting that the primitive stem cell population can actually clonally expand. Our current experiments are aimed at determining the extent to which this expansion can occur and whether or not this expansion can be influenced by exogenous factors.