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The selection of a cell type for bioartificial liver (BAL) systems for the treatment of patients with acute liver failure is in part determined by issues concerning patient safety and cell availability. Consequently, mature porcine hepatocytes (MPHs) have been widely applied in BAL systems. The success of clinical BAL application systems is, however, largely dependent on the functionality and stability of hepatocytes. Therefore, we compared herein the general metabolic and functional activities of MPHs with mature human hepatocytes (MHHs) in the Academic Medical Center (AMC)-BAL during a 7-day culture period. We also tested fetal human hepatocytes (FHHs), since their proliferation capacity is higher than MHHs and their function is increased compared to human liver cell lines. The results showed large differences between the 3 cell types. MHHs eliminated 2-fold more ammonia and produced 3-fold more urea than MPHs, whereas FHHs produced ammonia. Lidocaine elimination of FHHs was 3.5-fold higher than MPHs and 6.6-fold higher than of MHHs. Albumin production was not different between the 3 cell types. MPHs and FHHs became increasingly glycolytic, whereas MHHs remained metabolically stable during the whole culture period. MHHs and MPHs formed tissue-like structures inside the AMC-BAL. In conclusion, we propose that FHHs can be considered as a suitable cell type for pharmacological studies inside a bioreactor. However, we conclude that MHHs are the preferred cell source for loading a BAL device for clinical use, because of their high ammonia eliminating capacity and metabolic stability. MPHs should be considered as the best alternative cell source for BAL application, although their phenotypic instability urges application within 1 or 2 days after loading. Liver Transpl 13:589–598, 2007. © 2007 AASLD.