In this report we examine the fate of donor cells injected via different routes. When PKH-26-labeled C57BL/6 (B6) spleen cells were intravenously (i.v.) injected into BALB/c mice, the donor cells were rejected within 3 days. In contrast, when the same B6 spleen cells were portal venously (p.v.) injected, they were trapped in the recipient liver. When allogeneic or syngeneic whole bone marrow cells (BMC) or cells in a hemopoietic stem cell (HSC)-enriched fraction were either i.v. or p.v. injected, the cells accumulated in the liver. The cells trapped in the liver were found to be wheat germ agglutinin (WGA)-positive HSC. When B6 thymocytes were p.v. or i.v. injected into BALB/c mice, they were rapidly rejected. When BALB/c mice were i.v. preimmunized with unlabeled B6 spleen cells, BMC or thymocytes, the p.v. or i.v. injected PKH-26-labeled B6 spleen cells were rejected rapidly (within 2 days). In contrast, when BALB/c mice were p.v. preimmunized with B6 spleen cells or BMC, the p.v. or i.v. injected PKH-26-labeled B6 spleen cells were not rejected. The cells responsible for the tolerance induction were found to be HSC trapped in the liver. Delayed-type hypersensitivity assays revealed that the tolerance could be maintained for more than 49 days by p.v. injection plus i.v. injection (at intervals of 2 weeks) of HSC. These findings indicate that HSC trapped in the liver play a crucial role in the induction and maintenance of p.v. tolerance.