Mouse teratocarcinoma cells (OTT6050) deficient for thymidine kinase were fused with rat hepatoma cells ( Fu5AH ) deficient for hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase using inactivated Sendai virus. The hybrid cells were selected and cultured in the presence of HAT medium. A clonally established hybrid cell line ( As3 ), which in addition to its mouse genome contains several rat chromosomes, expresses rat specific enzyme variants and produces large primarily undifferentiated tumors, with some hepatoma characteristics in athymic nude mice. To reveal the in vivo developmental potential of these cells and to determine whether, under different experimental conditions, they are capable of participating in tissue differentiation, the As3 cells were injected into mouse blastocysts from the C57BL/6 strain. The experimental blastocysts were then transferred into the uteri of pseudopregnant foster mothers to allow further development. From a total of 212 blastocysts transplanted, 61 fetuses developed and were analysed for As3 contributions between the 10th and 18th day of gestation. Four fetuses at day 18 showed hybrid cell participation in their livers and a few organs of only endo-mesodermal origin, as judged from the presence of rat-specific enzyme variants. The enzymes were organ-specifically expressed (e.g., lactate dehydrogenase) or appeared newly during in situ differentiation while being absent in the original hybrid cells (e.g., glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase). During short in vitro culture of the chimaeric organs, it was possible to select for the hybrid cells which reverted to an enzyme pattern simiar to but not identical with the As3 cell line and different to that observed in situ.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)