Long-term repopulating hematopoietic stem cells can be separated from cells which provided radioprotection (short-term repopulating cells) on the basis of size. This might be a result of the quiescent nature of long-term repopulating cells. To define the activity of these populations we utilized a dye, PKH26+, which incorporates into the membrane of cells and is equally distributed to daughter cells when they divide. We were able to retrieve PKH26+-labeled cells posttransplant in the hematopoietic tissues of the recipients. We could also assess their cell cycle status and their ability, short-and long-term, to reconstitute secondary lethally irradiated hosts in limiting dilution. The results suggest that long-term repopulating cells remain quiescent in the bone marrow shortly after engraftment, whereas cells which radioprotect are more rapidly dividing. We could not detect labeled cells in the peripheral blood posttransplant, and even though cells homed to both the spleen and bone marrow the cells in the bone marrow were significantly more competent at reconstituting lethally irradiated secondary hosts.